Azad Rahimov: Islamic Solidarity Games in Baku to demonstrate peaceful face of Islam
Participation in the 4th Islamic Solidarity Games in Baku will allow the athletes of the countries members of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation to gain invaluable experience in complex competitions, and show the world a positive image of the Muslim society, the Azerbaijani Youth and Sports Minister Azad Rahimov, speaking with Vestnik Kavkaza, said about the essence of the 4th Islamic Solidarity Games, which will be held in the Azerbaijani capital on May 12-22.
"Although the Islamic Solidarity Games contain the word 'Islam', it is not about propaganda. I believe that the first goal of the Games in Baku is an opportunity for athletes to participate in a complex sports event," Azad Rahimov explained.
The minister noted that Azerbaijan knows firsthand of importance of such experience. "When we took the second place at the First European Games with 56 medals, it seemed like a miracle. But then we set our record at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro with 18 medals - we realized that the 56 medals were not coincidental. The First European Games were the opportunity for our athletes to gain experience before Rio Games," he stressed.
At the same time, Azerbaijan as a Muslim country also considers itself obligated to show a normal image of Islam in order to resist anti-Islamic propaganda. "Islam is unity, peace and friendship. And we will demonstrate to the whole world that Islam is a religion that is in no way connected with terrorism," Azad Rahimov noted.
"It's clear that fighting, judo, boxing are well=developed in Azerbaijan, but our athletes have an excellent opportunity to compete in all sports disciplines and in all weight categories. I think that thanks to this we will won a worthy number of medals," the Azerbaijani Youth and Sports Minister expects. .
Also, the 4th Islamic Games will also help to increase Azerbaijan's popularity as a tourist country. "We already have a very large number of tourists, which is facilitated by not only the First European Games, Islamic Games or the Formula 1 Grand Prix, but also by our visa policy and direct flights. The tourist flow from the Emirates, Kuwait, Iraq, Iran and Saudi Arabia increased fivefold or tenfold. So we believe that Azerbaijan can take a worthy place among tourist destinations around the world," Azad Rahimov concluded.