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Azad Rahimov is very proud of what has been achieved in Baku European Games

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Image Credits: Baku Games

Recently concluded Baku European Games were the first games of this kind. The European Games have had too much to offer to the European world, create the legacy to be worn for next few years before there can be value addition of various kind. We tried to reason with the games organizing committee official spokesperson, Mr. Colin Gibson about these aspects and an excerpts of our conversation can be read from below:


There were always two distinct legacy objectives from the European Games in Baku. The first was a physical legacy – the European Games was always a part of a vision to use sport to build the nation of Azerbaijan. So the facilities that were built for sport – such as the Olympic Stadium, the new National Gymnastics Arena and the Baku Aquatic Centre – will be used during the Islamic Solidarity Games in 2017 and, in the case of the Stadium, for the Euro 2020 football championships. The Baku Aquatic Centre will also be available for public use as well.

There was the second objective which was to create a human legacy – through the graduates scheme and  the employment of almost 80 per cent of Azerbaijani staff there was a knowledge development and transfer which should allow the successful delivery of the events listed above as well as the other events such as Formula 1 and the Chess Olympiad.
There is also a legacy for European sport and European athletes because Baku illustrated that the concept of the European Games was clearly viable.

Success of the Games…

The Games were hugely successful as both Thomas Bach, the IOC President, and Patrick Hickey, the EOC President, announced. They were superbly run in great arenas in front of big crowds. The Games were always staged with the athletes in mind and they left talking of the fantastic facilities and hospitality they received in Baku.

General expectations and report card…

As it was the first European Games there was an excitement as they represented the final continental games – as Asia, Africa, America, Oceania and even the Pacific as well as Commonwealth have their multi sport events. But it must be remembered that most of those events have up to seven years to prepare – in Baku it was less than 30 months as the Games weren’t awarded until December 2012. There was also no blueprint for a European Games. Everything that was created was new. I think that Baku 2015 exceeded so many expectations. Originally the concept was for 12 sports and in the end there were 20 sports, 16 of them Olympic and of those 16 no fewer than 12 provided direct or indirect qualification for Rio de Janeiro next summer. There were 6000 athletes from all 50 European National Olympic Committees, 145 countries able to watch the broadcasts with a reach of 823 million homes and more than 1500 media attending – at least half from outside Azerbaijan. There were also commercial eight partners and 11 commercial supporters including some of the biggest names in the international marketplace.
Objectives & Achievements…

To create a world class multi sport Games that provided a legacy for the country and European sport. That was a success.
To deliver great venues for the athletes. That was a success.
To develop a volunteering culture in a country where none existed. There were 12,500 Flame-keeper volunteers and all but 350 came from Azerbaijan. Another success.
And to ensure that the Games were well supported and we sold more than 600,000 tickets for the event.
We also delivered outstanding Opening and Closing ceremonies
Special features to be recalled for (key attractions)

Already some of the sport innovations have been adopted. 3 x 3 Basketball – a very popular sport in Baku – is being included in the 2018 Commonwealth Games while many other multi sports events are seriously looking at Beach Soccer and Karate.
There were technical and media innovations – such as the i-cloud usage and also the adoption of the i-zone where more than 5000 interviews took place – that I am sure will be adopted at other events.
Baku, Azerbaijan as a new sporting location…

Baku may be new to  a lot of people but with the events that are to be held there soon – such as F1, the Islamic Solidarity Games and Euro 2020 – I am sure everyone will be aware of the city and the aspirations of the country of Azerbaijan. Baku had already staged a Eurovision song contest in 2012 and a FIFA under 17 soccer tournament and so the framework of enthusiastic local organizers was already in place.


As I mentioned before there has been a great development in the infrastructure of the country from a sporting perspective but there was also a development of civil infrastructure such as the international airport which is now one of the best in the entire region of Central Europe and Asia. There have also been new road projects and an improvement in technology as well as transport and medical facilities which will serve the country and its people for many years to come.

Spectator & Public connect…

The Games captured the imagination of the Azerbaijani people who have never had a tradition of buying tickets for any events other than for football matches or pop concerts. Here we had more than 600,000 ticket sales for events which was unprecedented. The total sell out was nearly 80 per cent and in the final few days every event was sold and the clamor for tickets for the Closing Ceremony was extraordinary.
The Torch relay was another great way of engaging the public outside Baku – and don’t forget there were events in Mingachevir in the west of the country. The torch visited 59 regions outside Baku and passed at some stage in its journey within a maximum of one hour of 99 per cent of the population. The numbers who turned out to cheer the torch and for the Festivals of Fire sometimes topped 50,000 people in some venues and across the country totaled more than 1mn.

School programs…

There was a school program conducted throughout the country to help inform, educated and enthuse pupils, teachers and families about the European Games. The Flame-keepers volunteer program was predominantly student run with more than 30,000 applying for the 12,500 places. There were other student led organizations around the Games as well like the Baku City volunteers. These were all a great success.
Global impacts & impacts on the continent…

The impact is that the five Olympic rings have now been complete in that Europe has its own continental multi sport event. The value has been demonstrated to television viewers in the 145 countries across the globe that these European Games were broadcast. A world class sporting event had been created by a team led by Chief Operating Officer Simon Clegg and overseen by Chief Executive and Minister of Youth and Sport Azad Rahimov.

Words from the CEO (Mr. Azad Rahimov):

‘The first European Games will go down in sporting history. I am very proud of what has been achieved in Baku and the positive feedback we have been getting in terms of the setting, organization, hospitality and action. It has been a success for Azerbaijan, and will be a launching pad for future sporting events we will host.’

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