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  • European Games Could Drive Baku 2024 Olympic Bid


    (ATR) The Azerbaijan sports minister says a 2024 Olympic bid by the host of the inaugural European Games would be possible if the IOC were willing to reduce some requirements for the host country.

    Baku, host of 1st European Games (ATR)
    Azad Rahimov says if the European Games are seen as a success by the Olympic movement, their ongoing push to host the Olympics could gain real traction. Baku has failed to make the IOC shortlist to host both the 2016 and 2020 Summer Games.

    Part of the reason they didn’t make the shortlist of candidates was due to low infrastructure scores during the IOC inspections. However, both inspections came before Baku spent billions dollars on infrastructure projects during preparations for the European Games. Baku never released a detailed budget on their spending for the games.

    Although the infrastructure has improved since previous IOC inspections, Baku still would not meet some of the requirements outlined by the IOC in their Olympic Agenda 2020 reforms.

    Among these requirements is an Olympic stadium that can seat at least 80,000 spectators for the opening and closing ceremonies. The Baku National Stadium built for the European Games currently seats 68,000.

    Sports minister Rahimov said it would be impossible for Azerbaijan to host the Olympics without "huge investment by the government for the preparation of the Games" under the current IOC requirements.

    Given the country’s estimated expenditures ranging from $4 billion to $8 billion on these European Games – including approximately $1 billion spent on travel and accommodations for every athlete competing – the oil-rich country would presumably be willing to spend more to land the 2024 Olympics. 

    Baku National Stadium seats 68,000. (ATR)
    Included in the Olympic Agenda 2020 reforms is an IOC invitation phase where IOC leaders would meet with potential host cities to discuss the country’s plans, vision and legacy for the Games. This meeting would allow Azerbaijan leaders to discuss any potential requirement reductions for hosting the Games.

    "If these demands and requirements will be, let’s say, somehow finalized in a more realistic approach, it will be more easy for such a country as Azerbaijan to bid for the games," Rahimov said.

    Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev is also the president of the country’s NOC. The final decision to bid for the 2024 Games rests with him. The overall success of the European Games will be a determining factor in his decision to enter the race for 2024.

    If Aliyev decides to commit to another Olympic bid, Baku would join Boston, Rome, Hamburg and Paris in the race to host the 2024 Games.

    Paris officially announced their decision to enter the bidding race on Tuesday. Budapest is also determining whether or not they will bid for 2024.

    The European Games will conclude on Sunday with closing ceremonies at Baku’s National Stadium.

    Written by Kevin Nutley

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