The Minsk Arena hosted the 2013 UCI Track World Championships (Getty)
(ATR) Belarus is one of the seven countries bidding to stage the 2019 European Games.
After the Netherlands withdrew as hosts of the second edition last month for financial reasons, the European Olympic Committees began its search for a replacement and relaunched the bidding process.
First vice president of the Belarus NOC Maxim Ryzhenkov confirmed the country had expressed an interest in holding the 2019 European Games, in an interview with Belarus 1 TV Channel.
“The European Olympic Committees have made such a proposal to us. We could host this event if we could provide the necessary conditions,” Ryzhenkov was quoted as saying by Belarus news agency BelTA.
He remarked on the billions of dollars spent by Azerbaijan to stage the inaugural Games in Baku, which concluded last Sunday.
Ryzhenkov suggested Belarus could make use of a number of existing sports facilities – rowing and water sports complexes and arenas – helping to reduce the capital outlay on venues and infrastructure.
“However, it takes a lot of money to host 6,000 athletes, around 1,500 officials and journalists and provide them with food and accommodation. Transportation, logistics, broadcasting services – all this costs quite a lot,” Ryzhenkov said.
Belarus capital Minsk has recent experience of hosting international sports events. In 2014, it hosted the ice hockey world championships at two arenas. A year earlier the city staged the UCI's track cycling worlds.
EOC president Pat Hickey confirmed to Around the Rings
at the end of Baku 2015 that there were seven potential candidates for the 2019 edition.
The EOC is in talks with two countries who had initially expressed an interest in the 2023 Games and the five nations who lost out to the Netherlands.
Hickey won’t reveal the names of the countries, only saying “geographically it’s a good mix”.
But ATR understands that one or two cities in Turkey are interested. Along with Belarus, another Eastern European country is also thought to be in the running. Manchester has indicated an interest in the 2023 Games, but may now be in the mix for the 2019 event.
The EOC is “negotiating privately and will have an excellent city by the end of this year”.
“We have had meetings here [in Baku] with five of the seven and have started the ball rolling,” Hickey said.
After the holiday months of July and August, Hickey said he expected the bidding process to intensify in September. “We hope to have everything cleared by the end of the year,” he added.
Reported by Mark Bisson
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