(ATR) Acting European Olympics chief Janez Kocijančič tells Around the Rings that Baku is the right choice to host the 2019 EYOF.
The European Olympic Committees leader announced that Baku would host the 2019 summer edition of the multisport event at a press conference in the Azerbaijani capital.
"Baku is a proven host of first-class multi-sport events and the city has a special place in European sport having hosted the first ever European Games in 2015," Kocijančič told ATR.
"I’m delighted that our continent’s finest young athletes will now have their chance to compete in Baku at a European Youth Olympic Festival."
He defended the choice of Baku, which came under fire for its human rights record ahead of the 2015 Games. The city was widely acclaimed for its staging of the multi-sport event after throwing billions of dollars into venue infrastructure and preparations.
"Azerbaijan’s sports ministry is delivering on the sporting legacy of Baku 2015 through hosting a Grand Prix in 2016 and 2017, the Islamic Solidarity Games in May and four matches at [UEFA] Euro 2020," he said.
"The Baku 2019 EYOF will benefit hugely from Azerbaijan’s expertise in hosting sports events and I am confident they will deliver an outstanding festival in two and a half years’ time."
Minsk, Belarus was slated to host the 2019 EYOF before the EOC decided last October to upgrade its offering, awarding the second edition of the European Games to the Belarusian capital.
The decision came as the EOC scrambled to find a host after scrapping Russia’s Sochi-Kazan preferred bid over the state-sponsored doping scandal.
Up to 4,000 athletes from the EOC’s 50 member countries will participate in the 2019 EYOF.
The EOC executive board is set to formally sign the hosting agreement with the NOC of Azerbaijan at its meeting in Lausanne on Jan. 26.
The winter edition of the biannual EYOF will take place in Erzurum, Turkey, Feb. 11 to 18, while Gyor in Hungary stages the summer competition.
Reported by Mark Bisson
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