EOC officials at the debrief (EOC)
(ATR) Pat Hickey tells Around the Rings
he hopes athletics and swimming will be among five or six core sports for the European Games.
Drafting a list of core sports for the 2019 edition and beyond was one of the decisions at a two-day Baku 2015 debrief in Rome that ended Saturday.
Athletics was only a third-tier competition at the Baku European Games, while swimming was low-key junior event. Both European federations were unable to commit to bringing top athletes due to broadcast and sponsorship contractual agreements.
But the president of the European Olympic Committees is confident in securing elite-level track and field and swimming events for the 2019 event. The vision of the Eastern European host city is due to be discussed at an EOC Executive Committee meeting this week in Tirana, Albania with ratification slated for the general assembly in Prague in November.
“We will have a significant athletics event next time around,” the IOC Executive Board member told ATR.
Hickey met European Athletics president Arne Hansen on the sidelines of the IAAF world championships in Beijing last month. He has been invited to speak at a European Athletics conference in October, where he will pitch the case for athletics to become a core sport of the European Games program.
But Hickey admitted he has yet to meet European swimming leaders.
The debrief in Rome brought together members of the EOC Executive Committee, including the Baku 2015 Coordination Commission chair Spyros Capralos, Baku 2015 COO Simon Clegg and other representatives from the organizing committee and Azerbaijan’s ministry of sport.
Another discussion point was a possible Winter European Games.
The EOC is considering proposals after some NOCs expressed interest in staging a winter continental multisports event.
“Some people like the concept of a winter version,” he said, adding that it might be a much smaller games than Baku 2015.
“We are concentrating on getting the 2019 event off the ground first,” Hickey said, adding that the EOC would explore the idea in consultation with the IOC and Thomas Bach.
Hickey said the Baku debrief offered constructive feedback and some new ideas for the 2019 Summer European Games.
“There was praise for new sports. They thought we should continue and be innovative,” he said, noting that 3x3 baskteball and beach soccer were the most popular sports.
Responses from a questionannire revealed “overhwhelming praise from NOCs… they thought it was a great event and very well organized”.
The EOC’s technical team is now embarking on talks with each European federation which took part. Hickey said the EOC also acknowledged that “good relationships” with the international federations were imperative.
He added: “All the info put on table will be compiled into a wish list on how to improve for next edition.”
Consultants Deloitte will produce a final report on the Baku 2015 Games that Hickey says will be a “clear blueprint for the next organizers”.
Reported by Mark Bisson
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