Netherlands withdraw interest in staging 2019 European Games
Dutch set to hold next games but pull out just two days before inaugral event in Baku
Holland have pulled out as hosts of the 2019 European Games, just two days before the opening ceremony of the inaugral games in Baku. Photograph: Afp
The future of the European Games has suffered a setback two days before the opening ceremony of the inaugural event in Baku.
The Netherlands havewithdrawn its interest in staging the event in 2019 despite having been unveiled as the next hosts by the European Olympic Committees last month.
At the time the Dutch were said to be the only bidders but EOC president Pat Hickey said on Wednesday that five cities outside Holland have expressed interest in staging the event.
Calling Wednesday’s news “disappointing”, Hickey added: “We are confident these inaugural European Games in Baku will be the ideal showcase for this new event and its long-term sporting, social and economic benefits.
“I have no doubt that we will be able to present a strong host for the 2019 European Games.”
The European Games was conceived in 2012 as a way to bring the continent into line with others such as South America, Asia and Africa, whose own continental Games are well established.
But the Baku programme is without a number of flagship events, with athletics, cycling and swimming among those featuring significantly weakened formats.
And the build-up to the Games has been marked by human rights concerns with Amnesty International claiming on Wednesday it has been denied the right to enter the country for the duration of the Games.
The Baku Games’ chief operating officer Simon Clegg said on Wednesday that questions concerning Amnesty International are “political questions that need to be directed to the politicians”.
The opening ceremony of the Games will take place in the city’s Olympic Stadium on Friday before the sporting action begins the following day.