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  • Azerbaijani Karate Champ Meets Media -- On the Scene


    (ATR) Azerbaijani karate gold medalist Firdovsi Farzaliyev received an enthusiastic greeting from his nation’s media at a morning news conference Tuesday.

    Azerbaijan Karate gold medalist Firdovski Farzaliye (ATR)
    Farzaliyev, 21, a native of Baku, captured Azerbaijan’s first gold medal of the European Games, winning the men’s Kumite 60 kilogram class on Saturday.

    Despite arriving 15 minutes late to the downtown Hilton Hotel, Farzaliyev was treated like a rock star by the Azerbaijani media. They peppered him with an array of questions about his inspiring triumph and following the news conference, the young karate star was asked to pose for photos and selfies with media members and volunteers.

    “To be in your own country, to perform in front of your own spectators and raising your own flag, it was an important moment,” Farzaliyev said.

    “I’m thankful to the president for his support,” Farzaliyev said referring to Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev bringing the Games to Baku. “I also want to say that this was an important competition for all of us.”

    Farzaliyev won five matches, convincingly defeating an Italian rival in the gold medal match at Crystal Hall on the shores of the Caspian Sea.

    The young gold medalist was asked if he was disappointed that he wouldn’t be able to compete at the Rio Games, considering his sport is not on the Olympic program.

    “Every athlete wants to win the Olympic Games and has this dream in their minds,” Farzaliyev said. “I wouldn’t say it’s a tragedy. I would say that for me, winning the European Games are similar to the Olympic Games.”

    Baku 2015 chief operating officer Simon Clegg said that the high-level karate tournament, attended by numerous IOC members, could bode well for the sport to move forward toward Olympic status.

    “I am absolutely sure having seen the competition here that it was a wonderful demo of the sport. It was very powerful,” Clegg said. “Any opportunity like this to raise awareness of the sport with so many IOC members here will only help karate’s aspirations to get into the Olympic Games.”

    Lady Gaga’s $2 Million Price Tag

    Baku 2015 COO Simon Clegg (ATR)
    Amid reports that Lady Gaga received a $2 million appearance fee for Friday’s night’s performance at an elaborate opening ceremony, Clegg would only comment on the show’s total estimated cost of nearly 100 million dollars.

    "Regarding the opening ceremony, this fee was disclosed the other day,” Clegg confirmed. “It was a fitting amount proportion of the overall budget for these games.”

    Addressing Lady Gaga’s exorbitant price tag for her rendition of John Lennon’s “Imagine,” he said, “I’m not going to comment on speculation as to what her fee was.”

    The budget reported for the inaugural games has been reported as just over 1 billion manats or $915 million.

    Ticket Sales on the Rise

    Clegg said that ticket sales for the Games have been robust over previous days.

    He advised that 13,500 tickets were sold on Monday while over the previous three days the combined number of tickets sold is 38,000.

    Opening day of boxing at Crystal Hall (ATR)
    Clegg noted that 30,000 spectators attended 19 sessions at seven venues on Monday (day four), accounting for an 84% capacity rate. Six sessions were 100% sold out.

    It was also advised that all 48,000 tickets for the closing ceremony on Sunday, June 28, have been sold and nothing is available.

    Twenty-eight medals are up for grabs on Tuesday with archery, beach volleyball, shooting, taekwondo and boxing making their Games debut.

    Canoe sprint and synchronized swimming are in their finals days of competition.

    More than 6,000 athletes from 50 countries are competing in 20 sports at the inaugural European Games in the central Asian nation.

    Written by Brian Pinelli in Baku

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