The success of the inaugural European Games strengthened Azerbaijan on the world and European map, according to the youngest Azerbaijani MP.
“The first European Games will go down in sporting history,” Ceyhun Osmanli told this website.
“I’m very proud of what has been achieved in Baku and the positive feedback we have been getting.”
Next year Azerbaijan will host a Formula One race through the streets of Baku, the 42nd Chess Olympiad and soccer’s European Under-17 Championship. It will also stage matches in football´s Euro 2020 competition.
Russia dominated the Games with 69 golds but Azerbaijan, roared on by vociferous support at every venue, surprised many and was second in the medal table.
Nearly 6,000 athletes from 50 countries competed in 20 sporting events at the Games that ended with Sunday’s closing ceremony in the 68,000-seater Olympic Stadium.
Asked for his overall impression of what were the first European Games, the parliamentarian said, “Although this was a first, it gathered as much admiration as London Olympics and Beijing Olympics. More sportsmen than Sochi and Vancouver Olympics attended and, thus, we can say that Azerbaijan has managed to become a sports capital of Europe.”
The Games were held in two cities, Baku and Mingachevir, and he believes Azerbaijan made an ideal host country because “hospitality is a traditional virtue of the Azerbaijanis. The sportsmen and the tourists visiting Azerbaijan enjoyed not only the sports events but were exposed to a unique cultural and civilizational experience.”
He also pointed out that Azerbaijan covered for the costs of participating sportsmen and coaches, which he called a “historic first.”
He singled out the head of the Baku 2015 European Games Organizing Committee, First Lady of Azerbaijan Mehriban Aliyeva, and President Ilham Aliyev for particular praise.
“The President and his family were closely involved in the preparations of the Games while closely following the competitions. Azerbaijani people also showed great support and everybody fulfilled her/his task as expected.”
However, there has been criticism of the choice of Azerbaijan and Osmanli counters this by saying, “There is a race in the world. Each country wants to be more successful.Every nation wants to be more successful. Every country would like to host a prestigious event such as the European Games.”
“Besides hosting the Games, Azerbaijan obtained the second place among 50 countries in terms of medals won,” said Osmanlı who is a deputy of the Milli Maclis (Parliament) of the Republic of Azerbaijan.
He adds, “Yet the Azerbaijani model of success is not based on envy but outstanding achievements and reforms. This is an absolute priority for us. Most importantly, as a country with a predominantly Muslim population, Azerbaijan is giving added value to European values. We are not focused on what we can take from the EU countries right now but on what we can give to them.”
Baku won the right to hold the First European Games by decision of the European Olympic Committee, which was taken in December 2012.
The competitions were held in 20 different types of sports. In 12 of them the winners and medalists will receive qualifying marks to take part in the Olympics 2016 in Rio de Janeiro.
The MP believes that international events such as the European Games can help push the reform process in the country and help its ongoing modernization.
He said, “Azerbaijan gained its first independence in 1918. We were the first democratic Muslim country. Women here obtained the right to vote and to be elected before the United States and France. The world’s first oil academy, the first theatre, cinema, comedy as well as the first woman pilot in the East were in Azerbaijan.”
He points out that the country we will host 2016 World Chess Tournament and the International Muslim Sport Solidarity Games in Azerbaijan in 2017 with 58 participating countries and with nearly 7000 sportsmen.
He said, “We know what democracy is. As we continue to develop ourselves, we are moving towards better targets.”
He said among the “many positive reviews,” there were “naturally some political comments and slander.”
He adds, “I think that facts and figures connected with this sporting event best create the best impression of it.”
He cites, for example, the fact that 1,450 citizens of Azerbaijan were included in the Organising Committee of the Games.
Also, the number of participants overtook the Sochi Winter Olympics 2014 (2,800 athletes) and the Vancouver Olympics 2010 (2,566 athletes) and that more than 1000 journalists from different countries covered the tournament.The MP says the 17 day event “will go down in history as the first games on a continental scale and will be remembered as one of the most advanced events for the “Old World”.