Baku Olympic Dreams On Hold Ahead of Solidarity Games

(ATR) After bidding for the 2016 and 2020 Olympics, Baku is in no rush to bid again.

(ATR) The 2017 Islamic Solidarity Games in Baku, Azerbaijan will not kickstart an imminent Olympic bid for the country.

"That is a project for another day," a Baku spokesperson told Around the Rings. "I think it is the dream of many countries to host an Olympic Games and why should Azerbaijan be any different?

"For now, we are focused on ensuring the Baku 2017 Islamic Solidarity Games is delivered to the international standard that people around the world now associate with sports events in Azerbaijan."

Baku bid for the 2016 and 2020 Olympic Games, failing to make the shortlist both times. Azeri sport leaders teased a possible 2024 Olympic bid, although that failed to materialize.

Bidding for the Olympics coincided with an aggressive push to host the first ever European Games in 2015. Baku also hosted numerous championships around that time, including the wrestling world championships in 2007, boxing world championship in 2011, and the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup in 2012. Baku is set to host the European Youth Olympic Festival in 2019.

If the IOC jointly awards the next two Summer Games at its 2017 Session, Baku would have to wait until the 2032 Games to get back into the bidding. Given Azerbaijan's association with the European Olympic Committees, the proximity to a Paris Olympiad could prove another hurdle to navigate.

The Islamic Solidarity Games are set for May 12-22. According to a spokesperson the Games are a direct legacy from the European Games, with "75 percent of the workforce" having been a part of the 2015 edition.

Venues for the Solidarity Games are being recycled from the European Games. The Baku Olympic Stadium, the National Gymnastic Arena and the Baku Aquatics Centre, built for the 2015 event, are in use along with other existing venues in Baku.

"Final preparations are going well," the spokesperson said. "We have the required infrastructure already in place to host a major international sporting event."

The Games will be shown in more than 50 countries worldwide according to the spokesperson, thanks to a new international broadcast agreement.

Even with the Opening Ceremony days away, preliminary competitions in football and handball have begun. Training sessions are being held as athletes continue to arrive in Baku.

Baku 2017 expects around 2,800 athletes from all 56 countries of the Islamic Sport Solidarity Federation to participate. Kuwait athletes will compete under the ISSF flag, given the suspension of the Kuwait Olympic Committee.

Written by Aaron Bauer

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