(ATR) The Netherlands was today awarded the 2019 European Games by the European Olympic Committees.
The country of 17 million people received the unanimous support of the 50 NOCs gathered at the EOC’s Extraordinary General Assembly in the Turkish resort of Belek.
The Dutch NOC was the EOC’s preferred bidder of six NOCs who expressed an interest in staging the edition after the inaugural multisports event in Baku this summer.
But the fast-track bidding process, launched only last September, has thrown up some problems for the EOC. The nationwide bidding concept, which will see the 2019 Games staged in nine cities across five provinces, has yet to receive full government support and financial guarantees.
None of the host cities, including Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Utrecht, have confirmed their commitment to funding their role in the Games.
There was no mention of the obstacles that the Dutch bid still has to clear in the speech of EOC president Pat Hickey or by Dutch NOC secretary general Gerard Dielessen, who gave an overview of the bidding concept. But both the EOC and NOC remain confident of successful negotiations with the national government and city councils.
The Irish IOC Executive Board member spoke about the initial vision for the European Games, a continental event that would be tailor-made to suit host countries with a focus on keeping costs down in the bidding process and staging plan.
Hickey said the EOC had launched discussions with six NOCs before "zeroing in" in on the Netherlands.
"It had some very good and specific proposals. The cities are varied in every capacity," he told delegates
He praised the Dutch sports movement for the sophistication of its sports operations and wealth of experience in hosting major international sporting events such as world championships.
"At the excutive committee Belek [on Thursday]. We unanimously decided to put forward that we had selected the NOC of Netherlands subject to ongoing discussions with them," he said.
Dutch NOC secretary general Gerard Dielessen gave a 10-minute outline of the concept for the 2019 edition, which receivedthe backing of virtuall all of the Netherlands’ 74 sports federations at the end of April.
He said the Dutch had a vision to organise low-cost Games with no new facilities built. There will be no single athletes’ village, with participants staying in accommodations in each of the cities.
Creativity and innovation are the buzz words in the development of the plan.
New formats will include urban sports and formats such as skateboarding and roller sports, which are earmarked for Rotterdam.
The number of sports on the program is a work in progress; Dielessen told Around the Rings that organisers envisage 12 to 15 sports. But that figure could rise to 20 – the same size as Baku 2015 - in the coming months following ongoing discussions with sports federations and the host cities.
Amsterdam would host the ceremonies and athletics in the recently renovated 1928 Olympic Stadium – if European Athletics is willing to partner and offer a bigger track-and-field program than it has done for Baku 2015.
In keeping with the EOC’s cost-effective vision, which echoes the IOC’s Agenda 2020 reforms, Dielessen spoke about "modest and impactful opening and closing ceremonies".
On interesting innovation is the so-called "side events". There will be a program of sports competitions for amateur athletes before and after the European Games events, using the same venues.
The Dutch NOC official used a slide showing the proposed host cities to show the "very small" distances between them, resulting in a compact Games plan.
After the Netherlands’ hosting of many world championships down the years, he said the European Games was "the logical next step in the Dutch policy of hosting large sport events".
"We believe this concept is innovative, creative and sustainable," he said.
"It’s our ambition to contribute to the lasting legacy of the European Games."
Reported by Mark Bisson
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