Farid Gaibov: "UEG tries to move with the times"
The FIG Artistic Gymnastics World Cup has ended yesterday in Baku. President of the European Gymnastics Union (UEG), Farid Gaibov, discussed results of the tournament and future plans of the UEG in an interview with Vestnik Kavkaza on the sidelines of this event.
- What do you think about competitions that Baku just hosted?
- They were great. It's not the first time Baku hosts the Artistic Gymnastics World Cup, it has been held here for several years now; it already became a tradition. This year, there are a lot more participants, about two times more, mostly due to the fact that now you can qualify for the Olympic Games at the World Cups, which icreased significance of this tournament. Over the past few days we saw performances of Olympic champions and world champions, two days of the finals were very interesting. I'm happy for all European athletes who were able to win medals.
- What are the UEG's future plans?
- We're trying to move with the times, because competition among gymnastics type is very active, and everyone is trying to hold a lot of competitions. This year's calendar of competitions is very busy. That's why this year, just like before, we will have many innovations to attract the audience. In particular, starting this year we will have our own mascot - Luigi - who will be sent to all European Championships. The first tournament with his participation is the European Artistic Gymnastics Championship in Poland's Szczecin, it will be a surprise for the audience.
Overall, we and our partners help organizers to hold tournaments, because our goal is to attract people to competitions and try to keep fans interested in our sport. This also requires to maintain existing contracts with TV companies and sign contracts to show those gymnastics types that haven't been shown on TV yet. One of the most successful projects with out involvment last year was the European Championships in eight sports, which took place simultaneously in Glasgow and Berlin. Everything was organized really well. We agreed to hold tournament in August (although usually the European Championship takes place in spring), since there wasn't much football or other major sports events in August broadcasting schedule. It was the right time. Thanks to this, gymnastics ratings on TV have increased, much more people than usual have seen the Championships.
- Rhythmic gymnastics is the most popular type of gymnastics in Russia. What types attract the most spectators in Europe?
- Artistic gymnastics is considered to be the most popular gymnastics type in the world, and Russians are also starting to watch it more and more. Recent results of Russian gymnasts in this type are consistently high, just look at the latest World Championships and the Olympics. It is clear why rhythmic gymnastics is so popular in Russia - Russians constantly take medals, including gold medals at all recent Olympics, their leadership is indisputable.
In addition to artistic and rhythmic gymnastics, trampolining is also an Olympic sport. It was accepted as Olympic sport recently, and the International Gymnastics Federation, together with continental unions, are currently working to improve its popularity and bring more athletes and viewers to this sport.
- Are there projects similar to Golden Age?
- Golden Age is a very positive gymnastics festival with the participation of 55 years old and older athletes. It was held in Italy some time ago, the next one will be held in Crete. City where the festival takes place organize a real sports festival. There platforms in the streets in different parts of the city, gymnasts of golden age perform there, senging positive vibes to each other and to the audience. Each time the number of participants in the festival grows. There were 2 thousand of them in Italy.
- What do you think about future of world gymnastics?
- The International Gymnastics Federation is currently working on modernization of the World Championships. New Olympic cycle will begin starting from 2021, and it's already time to think about changes to the rules of tournaments in the next four years. Technical committees are working on this, making suggestions; World Cup format will definitely change. Qualifications for the future Olympic cycle are also discussed, and they're also expected to change. After approval, all these changes will affect continental unions, which will adjust their rules to new rule-set of the International Federation.