European Olympic family believes in Azerbaijan
Today the first European Olympic Games has come to an end. The Russian national team became the winner in the team rating before the appointed time. The Azerbaijani national team also showed good results. On Friday, President Ilham Aliyev, his wife, the chairman of the Organizing Committee of Baku-2015 Mehriban Aliyeva and family members watched the final matches of the athletes. The hero of the day was Paralympic judoka Ilham Zakiev. In the fight for the gold medal, he met with Ukrainian athlete Alexander Pominovo. Ilham Zakiev won and became the champion of the First European Games.
"Yesterday you awarded Paralympic judoka Ilham Zakiev gold and walked up the pedestal together with him. It was a great and exciting moment. Throughout the world, these photos were observed with great interest," the president of the European Olympic Committee (EOC) Patrick Hickey said, referring to President Ilham Aliyev at a meeting with a delegation from the EOC President.
"He invited me to walk up the podium with him, and I did it with great pleasure,’’ said Ilham Aliyev and then called Zakieva a symbol of courage and dignity, as well as stressing that the athlete was awarded on the Day of the Armed Forces of Azerbaijan. This fact has a very significant and symbolic meaning.
Patrick Hickey admitted that the Games in Baku were grand in every way. There were no complaints related to the European Games, or to the athletes’ village. The indicator of the importance of the Games became the fact that 900 foreign journalists worked there. The Games were given high praise by the vice president of the ESC, Janez Kosiyanchich: "We all know that Azerbaijan is the Land of Fire and Baku is the city of winds. I would like to add to this expression one detail: it is the "Country of friendly people." In all my life I have never seen so many cheerful young people. We have seen their friendly attitude and optimism. We are very touched by the awards ceremony with Ilham Zakiev, when the national anthem of Azerbaijan played. He is a true patriot. For us it is an honor to see this support of your people and your personal support for the organizing of the First European games."
It is obvious today that, due to Azerbaijan, the European Games are to become a tradition in Europe. Now the EOC is holding talks with three countries on the issue of the second European Games in 2019. Two countries have already agreed to hold the Third European Games in 2023.
EOC will make a proposal in order for the torch of the next European Games to be lit in Azerbaijan.
The chairman of the EOC Coordination Commission, Spyros Kapralos, is sure that the Games in Baku will make an important contribution to the development of sport in Europe: "The First European Games were a grand and well-organized event. We have seen the quality of the sports. The program of the European Games included new disciplines. By means of them we have tried to demonstrate the grandiosity of these Games. 42 out of 50 countries that participated in the event won medals. Of course, this event will make an important contribution to the development of sports in Europe.''