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  • Hickey Denies $500 Million Price Tag Will Deter European Games Bids


    (ATR) EOC leaders have set a target operating budget of $500 million for future European Games that they say is a “reasonable and sustainable pricetag”.

    The European Olympic Committees executive committee, meeting in Tirana, Albania also confirmed that the next edition of its flagship multi-sports event would be staged in the final two weeks of June 2019.

    The decisions emerged from detailed discussions about the development of a long-term, flexible model for the European Games, which included debate about establishing a core of six to ten sports for each edition.

    The $500 million operating budget for the European Games in 2019 and beyond is about a quarter of the cost of staging the Rio 2016 Olympics. Put into context of continental multisports events, the 2015 Pan-Am Games had an operating budget of $586m, while the 2014 Asian Games was reported at $1.9 billion.

    In May, the EOC confirmed the Netherlands as 2019 host; it proposed to stage the Games for about $143 million. The Dutch NOC was forced to abandon the Games in June after the government failed to provide financial guarantees.

    A debrief on the inaugural European Games in Baku last weekend prompted the EOC to forecast the higher average operating budget of around $500 million. In a statement, EOC president Patrick Hickey said it was “a reasonable and sustainable pricetag for a pan-continental sports mega-event featuring 50 nations” when compared to an Olympics.

    But the decision to set an operating cost might serve to act as a deterrent to potential bid cities. There were no Western European bids for the 2019 edition.

    Asked if future European Games bidders might balk at the $500 million price tag, Hickey tells Around the Rings that the figure is an “approximate average operating cost we feel future European Games budgets will tend towards”.

    “‎Of course, it could well be significantly lower than this and the EOC would welcome that in the spirit of our commitment to sustainability,” he said. “For a 17-day pan-continental mega-event with 6,000 athletes, 20 sports and 50 participating NOCs, we think that represents a reasonable figure. The number of sports or duration of the Games may change from edition to edition, and that would clearly affect operating costs."

    June Hosting Window

    Commenting on fixing a permanent summer window to host the European Games, the EOC said it would allow federations and NOCs more time to align their calendars with the European Games than was possible for the Baku Games.

    The 2019 edition will take place in an Eastern European nation, as confirmed to Around the Rings earlier this month. The host city may be confirmed at the EOC general assembly in Prague in November.

    “After the incredible success of the first edition of the Games, it is important we give all stakeholders the opportunity to build their calendars for 2019 with the Games in mind, rather than fitting the Games into their existing calendars, as they did for Baku 2015,” Hickey explained in a statement.

    “I am confident this will help us optimise the sports program and secure the top-level participation of sports like athletics and swimming.”

    The EOC is also set to rubberstamp a group of six to 10 core sports plus a variable number of additional sports selected by each host city and the EOC under efforts to tailor-make the games to the need of each host city.

    Hickey said the EOC’s decisions this week “allows us to progress our discussions with European federations and with the potential hosts of the 2019 and 2023 Games with concrete dates in mind”.

    EOC Backs Kosovo

    EOC leaders discussed the International Committee of the Mediterranean Games (ICMG) refusal to recognise Kosovo and gave their full support to the NOC from the small Balkan state, whose president addressed the board.

    The Mediterranean Games officials have called an emergency meeting on the sidelines of the ANOC general assembly in Washington D.C. next month to review the 23-member body’s rejection of Kosovo at an August meeting.

    The IOC sent a strongly-worded letter to the ICMG on Sept. 11, as reported exclusively by ATR this week, saying it could sever ties unless the organization took action to accept Kosovo’s membership. The IOC formally recognised Kosovo its Session in Monaco, with the EOC welcoming the nation to its family a few months later.

    “I am very pleased that the International Committee of the Mediterranean Games will be reconsidering Kosovo’s status in Washington,” Hickey told ATR. “ As one of the EOC’s 50 member nations, Kosovo has our full support in this matter.

    "Kosovo’s participation in the European Games in June was their first appearance at a major multi-sport event and was a special moment for the country and for European sport, particularly as they won their first ever medal at this level,” he added.

    Reported by Mark Bisson

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