FIFTY EUROPEAN countries will bring around 6,000 athletes to compete in 20 sports at Baku 2015, the first ever European Games, to be held Azerbaijan between 12 and 28 June. Baku 2015 is the next significant step on Azerbaijan’s journey onto the international stage 24 years after the country gained its independence.
Asia has already been holding its equivalent games every four years since 1951, so one could argue that the European Games have been a long time coming. Great Britain, for example, will send its largest overseas contingent (between 160 and 170 athletes) since the 2008 Beijing Olympics. With 15 months until the Rio Olympics, the event could have a say in how well Team GB performs in Brazil.
So just ahead of the Games, there’s no better time to publish a Diplomat magazine report on Baku 2015. The report includes contributions from Azerbaijan’s Ambassador, its Minister for Youth and Sport, along with COO of Baku 2015 Simon Clegg and President of the European Olympic Committees Patrick Hickey. These contributors report on an impressive upgrade of Azerbaijan’s infrastructure, including new sports facilities, an improved road network and bolstered phone and online communications.
Planning for the European Games is progressing hand-in-hand with the Islamic Solidarity Games, which will take place in Baku in 2017. They say Baku 2015 is fully committed to leaving a workable, innovative legacy for future games. Furthermore, a number of other important sporting events, including the international Chess Olympiad, Formula 1 and UEFA Euro 2020 will come to Baku over the next few years. With broadcast agreements to reach over a billion people, Baku 2015 is certainly an opportunity to demonstrate to the world what Azerbaijan can achieve.
As always, Diplomat reviews the Credentials of new heads of mission to the Court of St James’s, this month meeting with the Ambassadors of Laos and Georgia, along with the High Commissioners for Barbados and Pakistan. For our Portrait page, we photographed the Ambassador of Estonia.
In the lifestyle section, Diplomat reports on the Southbank’s lively new offering, Mondrian London at Sea Containers, and dinner at the newly renovated St James’s institution, Franco’s. Readers with a taste for culture will find valuable advice in our book and arts reviews, including information on iconic satirical illustrator and Diplomat cover artist Gerald Scarfe’s exhibition Milk Snatcher: The Thatcher Drawings at the Bowes Museum in County Durham.