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European Games: More Calendar Chaos

Dec 8, 2012  - Craig Lord

The inaugural European Games were approved today by the continents Olympic committees, the first event, including swimming, to be held in Baku in June 2015, right before the world titles and in the middle of the Mare Nostrum Tour, British Trials, Paris Open and all those other events that will keep the best away from competing with the best.

The biggest obstacle to a European Games, to be held every four years, had been the fact that two major sports - swimming and athletics - already have established continental competitions. While swimmers are expected to take part in 2015, it remains to be seen how the best swim nations in Europe respond to yet another demand on their athletes.

A month after the European Games in June 2015, the world's best will gather for the world championships in Kazan, Russia. You can almost guarantee that many of Europe's best will not make it to Baku.

The secret ballot of European Olympic Committees who clearly failed to consult the international swimming calendar, ends years of debate: 38 in favour, eight against,three abstaining. The capital of Azerbaijan was the sole candidate in the creation of what may become the latest of competitions to reflect a mix between the best of Europe and development teams.

For Europe, the Games are seen as a worthy addition to the wider world of continental competitions, such as the Asian Games and Pan American Games. 

Dates have not yet been set for the European event, at which 7,000 athletes are expected to participate. The event will include 15 of the 28 summer Olympic sports, plus two non-Olympic sports, yet to be chosen. Negotiations are also under way with the European Union of Gymnastics.

"These first games will be very much a trial and test run for a huge event in 2019," EOC President Patrick Hickey told The Associated Press. "My idea is that this would become a qualifier for the Olympic Games in 2020 for certain sports. We have to negotiate with certain federations." Fun and Games ahead on that one.

"We're open to looking at our options and we don't want to say `No' before the fact, but the calendar is already packed and 2015 is around the corner," European swimming federation (LEN) President Paolo Barelli told The Associated Press.

In a statement, European Athletics ruled out any involvement for 2015. The federation stated: "2015 is for us not possible as we already have contractual obligations to honour. Nowadays, though, the future is requesting a strong coordination between sports bodies and other parties such as television, for example, in order to be successful. If this coordination can be achieved, then European Athletics is open to looking to such solutions."