MOSCOW, May 2. /TASS/. Azerbaijan’s President Ilkham Aliyev has noted growing pressures on his country as the opening of the first-ever European Games, to be held in Baku on June 12-28, draws near.
"The closer the Games, the more obvious the attempts to discredit the event," Aliyev told the Rossiya-24 round-the-clock news channel in an interview. "We cannot but feel surprised. What’s this for? It looks like Azerbaijan’s ability to host the Games is a great annoyance to some," Aliyev said, adding that what Azerbaijan was going through these days looked very much like Russia’s own experiences in the run-up to the Sochi Olympics. Some describe as "astronomical" Azerbaijan’s spending on preparations for the forthcoming continental sports event.
"Hosting the Games has required just several hundred million dollars," Aliyev said. Ninety percent of the sports facilities where the athletes will be competing had been built either a while ago, or their construction had started long before Baku was nominated as the venue.
"We built them for reasons other than just hosting the Games," Aliyev said.
He is certain that Azerbaijan would decently cope with its mission of hosting the festival of friendship and sports.
"We are inviting everybody who is eager to attend. Athletes, tourists and ordinary citizens from the European countries and the whole of the CIS will surely feel at home," Aliyev said.
He wished the Russian national team a success, adding that it looked as one of the strongest.
The first European Games will be held in Baku on June 12-28, 2015. Competitions in eleven sports will serve as qualifiers for the Rio de Janeiro summer Olympics of 2016: archery, track and field athletics, boxing, beach volleyball, cycling, shooting, swimming, table tennis, taekwondo, triathlon, and wrestling.
The European Games are international comprehensive sports competitions to be held once in four years under the auspices of the European Olympic Committee. The schedule includes competitions in 20 sports, including 16 Olympic ones. The Games are expected to bring together 6,000 athletes, who will compete for 239 sets of medals.