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Spotlight Article

The Inaugural European Games

Azerbaijan American Alliance
June 15, 2015

On 12 June the inaugural European Games started with a large opening ceremony in Baku. The sporting event brings together over 6,000 athletes from all 50 European Olympic Committee member countries.  The event will feature twenty sports, such as aquatics, boxing, cycling, gymnastics, and wrestling. In addition to the spectacle of athletes vying for medals, the games are also an opportunity for many athletes to qualify for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics. International sporting events have the potential to reach out to large numbers of people and bring attention to the host country. By hosting the European Games Azerbaijan hopes to position itself on both the European and world stage.

Azerbaijan sends a message to the rest of the world about its future by hosting the first European Games. Domestically, the games brought a sizable investment in sports venues and the games’ supporting infrastructure in Baku. In addition to jobs in construction and hospitality, the games contribute to Baku’s growing image as a destination for tourism.  Attempts to grow tourism will receive a boost if the games are successful and serve as a foundation for a future Olympic bid by Azerbaijan. A successful sporting event will also demonstrate Azerbaijan’s credibility as a rising state on the global stage. Baku’s impressive modern skyline, now bolstered by the presence of new sporting venues and hotels, sends a positive message to investors about the business climate in Azerbaijan.

The European Games will be the first of many international sporting events that Azerbaijan will host in the near future. In 2016 the Baku Street Circuit will host a revived European Grand Prix and bring Formula-1 racing to Azerbaijan. That same year Azerbaijan will host the European Under-17 Championship. This is a prelude to Baku being one of thirteen cities selected by UEFA to host matches during the 2020 UEFA European Football Championship celebrating the 60th anniversary of the competition. Expect all of these events to elevate Azerbaijan’s standing in the world and to put tourists, investors, and many others on notice about the Caspian country’s ascent on the global stage.

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