2015 European Games to succeed despite athletics gap

Fri Nov 28, 2014 7:09am EST
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By Karolos Grohmann

BERLIN (Reuters) - Next year's inaugural European Games have generated unexpected media interest, Baku 2015 Chief Operating Officer Simon Clegg said on Friday, despite a complete lack of top track and field athletes from the $1 billion event.

The Azeri capital Baku will host the first continental Games next June, luring top athletes in some sports with 11 direct or indirect qualifiers for the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympics.

The June 12-28 event will have a total of 20 sports, 16 of them Olympic and four non-Olympic sports such as karate, sambo and beach soccer.

With 6,200 athletes, the Games are no small affair and Azerbaijan has pumped in more than $1 billion to organize it in just 30 months instead of four years for its successor, to be named next year.

Designed by the European Olympic Committees as a continental competition similar to the Asian Games or the Panamerican Games, it should eventually serve as a springboard to the Olympics for athletes.

"Things are on track and on schedule but there is no complacency on my part," Clegg told Reuters on Friday, less than 200 days before the start.

The former British Olympic Association Chief Executive must also a deliver an event that would quickly attract potential hosts for future editions.

Broadcasting rights have been sold to 90 percent of territories in Europe as well as 21 states in North Africa and the middle East and Japan, said Clegg.   Continued...