(ATR) European Olympic Committees President Janez Kocijancic says that reinforcing the strength of Europe’s major sporting events is a top priority for the continental association in 2018.
EOC President Janez Kocijancic speaks to reporters in Lausanne. (ATR)
The third host of the EOC’s flagship event, the European Games, will be known by the end of the year with an official tender process expected to begin in May, Kocijancic tells reporters. The EOC president says several cities across the continent have already expressed a desire to host the event, but he declined to identify specific suitors.
“We will launch, probably in Belgrade during our Executive Committee in May [9th], the tender procedure where we will find out the interest and come to the next organizer,” Kocijancic told media during a break in the EOC’s first Executive Committee meeting of the year at the Lausanne Palace Hotel.
“For the time being, there are countries that are interested. You know how it goes nowadays, not only with the European Games but also the Olympic Games, in the end you have to ask not only Olympic Committees and the organizers, but also citizens with referendums and the governments, so it’s a difficult procedure.”
The host city for the third European Games will likely be awarded during the EOC General Assembly Nov. 7-8 in Marbella, Spain.
In order to strengthen the profile of the European Games, the EOC is preparing changes that will come into effect for the second edition scheduled for Minsk, Belarus in June 2019. Among these changes is a new format for the athletics competition which will forego distance events for a more fast-paced, in-stadium experience more suitable to fans and television audiences.
The inaugural edition of the European Games was held in Baku, Azerbaijan in 2015. (Getty Images)
“Athletics is a very traditional sport and sometimes they have to compete in different parts of the stadium so you can’t follow it,” he said. “Here, there will be competitions between the teams that will be very attractive, one competition at one time and it will be a new face of athletics, a trial of modernization of this very important but very classical event.”
The EOC had also previously decided to drop the swimming competition from the European Games following what amounted to a junior-level championship at the inaugural 2015 European Games in Baku, Azerbaijan. However, the EOC hopes to bring back swimming with more elite competitors for the third edition of the event.
Kocijancic said that the inclusion of Minsk 2019 events in the qualification process for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics will help ensure more elite competition for the European Games moving forward.
“First, we try hard for there to be 12 competitions where they will be partially or completely a system of qualifications for the Tokyo Games, so that means they will be one of the roads to Tokyo  so that ensures the highest possible quality,” he said.
“We tried to create European Games by quality second only to the Olympic Games, so that requires our European partners and National Olympic Committees to send the best athletes.”
EOC executives meet in Lausanne with IOC President Thomas Bach in attendance. (EOC)
The EOC Executive Committee received an update from Minsk 2019 organizers and the EOC Coordination Commission for the games during the meeting in Lausanne. Kocijancic is confident in Minsk’s preparations for the games after receiving the update in his first EC meeting as an elected president. He served as interim president for 15 months after the departure of former president Patrick Hickey.
International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach also attended the EOC meeting, delivering a speech to the executives that touched on topics such as the Russian doping crisis, progress towards the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics and the potential of the Olympics to help North and South Korean diplomacy.
Kocijancic said he welcomed the North and South Korean proposals to march as one in the PyeongChang 2018 Opening Ceremony.
“The biggest success of the Olympic Movement is that it brings opposing countries and systems together,” he said.
A landmark meeting between Olympic and government officials from the two Koreas will be held in the Olympic capital on Jan. 20 to sort out details of North Korea’s participation in PyeongChang 2018. Around the Rings
is on the scene in Lausanne for the pivotal meeting.
Reported and written by Kevin Nutley in Lausanne.
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