European Games blueprint has won over doubters: Hickey

Wed Jun 24, 2015 6:06am EDT
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By Justin Palmer

BAKU (Reuters) - The inaugural European Games has won over the doubters, even with low profile athletics and swimming events, and its concept will pave the way for future successful editions, European Olympic Committees president Patrick Hickey told Reuters.

Over 6,000 athletes and 20 sports, including the innovative 3 x 3 basketball which appeals to younger audiences, feature at the multi-sport Games in the Azeri capital which ends on Sunday.

"The first Games are on the way to being extremely successful," Irishman Hickey, the main driving force behind the creation of the Games, said in an interview at the iconic Flame Towers complex with its sweeping views of the Caspian Sea.

"We had our doubters because in the beginning because people said this is a new product and could not work but I remind everyone that the Asian Games, which is the most successful continental games, started with seven sports and I think they now have something like 47.

"The biggest value is we were the only continent without a continental games and we have no history here, every sport was concerned with their own European championships.

"Now we have created a concept of all teams traveling together and living in the one Olympic village and the feedback we have got is this is a great practice run for the Olympic Games for European athletes and teams to travel together.

"We are getting word back that the bonding in the Olympic village is fantastic and that everybody is thrilled with this concept."

Hickey said it was always known that athletics and swimming, traditionally the blue riband events of any Games, would "not be the real deal" in Baku.   Continued...