Taekwondo, included in program of recently approved European Games
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During its last General Assembly, held in Rome last Saturday, the European Olympic Committee (EOC) gave green light to the creation of the European Games, which will take place every four years and will have Taekwondo as one of its main sports.
The decision of the EOC ends several years of debate, with the motion passing with 38 votes in favor, eight against and three abstaining. Baku, capital of Azerbaijan, was the sole candidate city to host the first Games, scheduled for 2015 and which will always be celebrated in the year preceding an Olympic Games.
EOC President Pat Hickey, who had championed the concept of a European Games over the last years, finally saw his project being approved by the National Olympic Committees of Europe. “These first games will be very much a trial and test run for a huge event in 2019. 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”, declared Hickey. Up to 7,000 athletes are expected to compete in 2015 in the first European Games, which is seen as an answer to other Games which are currently in place on other continents, such as the Asian Games and the Pan-American Games.
The four-yearly event will include 15 of the 28 summer Olympic sports, plus two non-Olympic sports, which have not been selected yet. Archery, badminton, boxing, canoeing, fencing, handball, judo, rugby sevens, shooting, Taekwondo, table tennis, triathlon and volleyball seem to be confirmed in the calendar for Baku 2015. Despite the green light for the Games, there remains some doubt over the involvement of the two major sports – athletics and swimming – who already have established continental competitions.
In 2015, the world athletics championships will be held in Beijing in August, while the swimming equivalent is scheduled for Kazan, Russia, in July. A European Athletics statement read: “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.”
Press conference after the General Assembly of the EOC
Photo used by Azerbaijan Olympic Committee during its presentation on Baku