(ATR) The success of Baku as the host of the inaugural European Games will make it easier to find a host for the 2019 edition says European Olympic Committees President Pat Hickey.
Speaking to Around the Rings on the final day of the games, Hickey says two more cities have decided to enter into discussions with the European Olympic Committees about the possibility of hosting 2019, based on the experience in Baku. He says that brings to seven the number of cities under consideration.
Hickey says he will not disclose the names of the cities as the EOC “is determined not to have the razzmatazz of bidding, the costs, etcetera”.
It is believed that the possible contenders are located in Eastern and Southern Europe countries, such as Belarus, Turkey and Russia.
Hickey is in the hunt for a 2019 host after The Netherlands withdrew in May just weeks after agreeing to take on the task.
“We are negotiating privately and will have an excellent city by the end of the year. We’ve had meetings here [in Baku] with five of the cities,” says Hickey.
“The situation is very healthy, very robust,” insists Hickey.
He says the example of Baku, which built some new venues, does not need to be followed by subsequent hosts. He describes the proposal from The Netherlands as “cheap and cheery” with its extensive use of existing facilities. Hickey says “we will tailor the games to fit a city”.
Hickey acknowledges that European Union politicians could raise human rights issues involving the next host city for the European Games, as they have done in Azerbaijan. But he says with the amount of trade that takes place between Azerbaijan and EU members, especially for petroleum, the European parliamentarians should look to commerce and not sport for leverage on human rights.
“Why do you ask us to do your dirty work? Why don’t you stop trade with Azerbaijan? It’s two-faced,” Hickey says
Without a 2019 host city a traditional element of games closing
EOC President Patrick Hickey receives the European Games Flag from Azerbaijan's Minister of Youth Sport and Baku 2015 CEO Azad Rahimov
ceremonies will not take place tonight in the new national stadium, the flag handover from one host to the next.
That aspect of protocol was dealt with in a more low-key manner earlier Sunday in Baku. The European Olympic Committees flag used for the 2015 games was handed over to Hickey by Azad Rahimov, Azerbaijan minister of youth and sport and the CEO of Baku 2015.
The presentation was made in a meeting room at the EOC hotel, the Fairmont, with just a few dozen in the audience from the EOC and Baku 2015.
The flag was presented in a custom-made wooden box replete with 25 brass plaques, enough to etch the names of the host cities for the next 100 years of European Games.
Written and reported in Baku by Ed Hula.
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