With exactly one month to go to the inaugural European Games Opening Ceremony, Mr Simon Clegg, Chief Operating Officer of Baku 2015, has expressed his satisfaction at the progress of preparations for the event.
Mr Clegg said: "One month to go is the latest milestone on the incredible journey of Baku 2015, the sporting community of Azerbaijan, and the European Games as a concept for sport in our continent. What is taking place here on the shores of the Caspian Sea is nothing short of astounding. Most Olympic host cities get seven years to prepare for their Games. Here in Baku we have had just 30 months to deliver the most important new sporting event in the international calendar for almost half a century.
"The support and vision of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Mr Ilham Aliyev, the Chair of the Baku 2015 European Games Organising Committee, First Lady Mehriban Aliyeva, and Azerbaijan’s Minister of Youth and Sports, Mr Azad Rahimov, has been critical to the success of this project. Together, we will ensure that the long-held dream of a multi-sport event for Europe’s finest athletes under the leadership of the President of the European Olympic Committees, Mr Patrick Hickey, will become a reality.
"We knew it was going to be a challenge, but the whole team in Baku has risen to the occasion and now, with just a month to go, I can say that we are on track to make sporting history. There is still work to be done – we all know that – and I have always said that we will need every minute of every day of the 30 months we were given.
"When Baku was announced as the host city for the European Games, there was no blueprint to pull off the shelf, no long-term broadcast deals, and no commercial partners. Today we have 18 world-class venues, broadcast agreements in place covering not only Europe but the whole globe, and the support of eight outstanding Official Partners and 11 Official Supporters. Add to that our partnership with UNICEF, Baku 2015’s Official Child Rights Organisation, and you can see the excitement and power of the brand that the European Games is creating.
"The Flame Capture Ceremony at Ateshgah gave the world a glimpse of the spectacular events to come, and the Journey of the Flame around Azerbaijan’s 60 regions continues to build excitement and anticipation as we head towards the start of the Games on 12 June.
"Another way in which we have endeavoured to involve and inspire the country has been through our Flamekeeper volunteer programme. Young Azerbaijanis have responded incredibly to this opportunity to participate in this historic moment for their country. During the Games, 12,000 Baku 2015 Flamekeepers will take on key roles, and will develop friendships, skills and experiences that will last a lifetime.
"We are also seeing enthusiasm for the European Games reflected in the great demand for tickets, both for the Opening and Closing Ceremonies and for the sporting competitions. Our aim has been to ensure that as many people as possible can enjoy Baku 2015, and to achieve that we have put an affordable ticket pricing policy in place, which allows children free admission to most venues.
"In one month's time, we will deliver an Opening Ceremony that is not only fitting and appropriate for our continent, but will also mark the start of an event which will provide a lasting legacy for sport in Europe.
"Baku 2015 will be a defining moment for our host country as well as for our athletes. Everything is now in place for an unforgettable summer of top-level competition, and I have no doubt that we will put on a show to make the whole continent proud."
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