Inaugural European Games approved for Baku in 2015

The inaugural European Games were approved Saturday by

continental Olympic committees and assigned to Baku in June


The secret ballot of European Olympic Committees ends years of

debate, passing with 38 in favor, eight against and three

abstaining. The capital of Azerbaijan was the sole candidate.

The results were met with applause from the floor of 49

delegations at the two-day EOC general assembly.

Other continents already have regional competitions, such as the

Asian Games and Pan American Games. The biggest obstacle to a

European Games had been the fact that two major sports – athletics

and swimming – already have established continental


It remains unclear if athletics and swimming will participate in


Dates have not been fixed yet, but as many as 7,000 athletes are

expected to participate. The event will include 15 of the 28 summer

Olympic sports, plus two non-Olympic sports, which haven’t been

selected yet.

Sports that could be confirmed include: archery, badminton,

boxing, canoeing, fencing, handball, judo, rugby sevens, shooting,

taekwondo, table tennis, triathlon and volleyball.

Negotiations are also under way with the European Union of


The games will be held every four years.

The idea for a European Games had been under consideration for

years, but this was the first time the EOC voted. The already

crowded sports calendar had been among the main concerns.

”These first games will be very much a trial and test run for a

huge event in 2019,” EOC President Patrick Hickey told The

Associated Press on Friday. ”My idea is that this would become a

qualifier for the Olympic Games in 2020 for certain sports. We have

to negotiate with certain federations.”

Athletics and swimming world championships have already been

scheduled for 2015. The athletics event will be held in Beijing in

August, while the swimming competition is slated for Kazan, Russia,

in July.

In a statement, European Athletics ruled out any involvement for

2015, although the governing body left the door open for possible

participation after that.

”2015 is for us not possible as we already have contractual

obligations to honor,” it said. ”Nowadays, though, the future is

requesting a strong coordination between sports bodies and other

parties such as television, for example, in order to be successful.

If this coordination can be achieved, then European Athletics is

open to looking to such solutions.”

Athletics and swimming European championships will be held in


”We’re open to looking at our options and we don’t want to say

`No’ before the fact, but the calendar is already packed and 2015

is around the corner,” European swimming federation (LEN)

President Paolo Barelli told The Associated Press.

Baku submitted a bid for the 2020 Summer Olympics but was

eliminated when the IOC selected a shortlist of three finalists in


Armenia asked not to vote, as it remains in a conflict with

Azerbaijan over the mountainous territory of Nagorno-Karabakh.