Hickey was in Beijing for IOC meetings and to catch the start of the World Athletics Championships (ATR)
(ATR) Pat Hickey tells Around the Rings
that the European Olympic Committees is now in “heavy negotiations” with two cities in one country to stage the 2019 edition.
The EOC chief said a third city had dropped out of the bidding field due to longer delays in decision-making to bring the government and sports movement fully behind the bid.
“All the time we want to be flexible, tailor-make the games to a city. So we are now talking to one country and two cities in a very positive way,” Hickey told ATR exclusively in Beijing,
The IOC Executive Board member said he had a meeting with officials representing the Eastern European nation, its NOC and the cities in the Chinese capital on Saturday. Belarus is understood to have expressed interest in hosting the multisport event.
Hickey said he hoped to “get everything signed up by the end of September or October” with the announcement slated for the EOC general assembly in Prague in November.
“It’s very quick but we are very happy with progress,” he said.
Following the demise of the Dutch bid for the 2019 European Games due to lack of government financial support in June, Hickey was asked if he was worried this fast-track bidding process might lead to a repeat of that scenario.
“Not at all. This is different in the sense that the government is involved from day one,” he told ATR.
“The lesson we have learned is we won’t commit to anything until we have the government green light first. With the Netherlands we took their word that the government would come on board,” he explained.
Hickey again hit out at critics who have suggested the Baku 2015 European Games might be a one-off due to lack of interest and the struggle to establish itself in an already cluttered sporting calendar.
“All the naysayers who were forecasting that that would be the first and last European Games are in for some surprise,” Hickey said.
Earlier this month on the sidelines of the IOC Session in Kuala Lumpur, the EOC president lashed out at Western European nations for criticizing the Baku European Games following widespread condemnation of Azerbaijan’s poor human rights record.
“We are sick to death of being lectured by the countries of Western Europe on the values of Olympism and what to do,” he said at the time.
“Western Europe think that it’s the European Union of 28 countries. I am the president of 50 countries of Europe and any one of those 50 countries have the right to host a Games without having to answer questions to the rest of Europe,” he added.
An update on the 2019 European Games bids will be presented at the EOC’s 2015 European Games debrief in Rome Sept. 9-11. The EOC may select its preferred candidate at its executive committee meeting at the end of September.
Reported by Mark Bisson
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