All 49 European national Olympic committees have officially received their invitations to the inaugural European Games in Baku, Azerbaijan in 2015.
Chefs de mission from the NOCs have been in Baku this week for a seminar to learn more about preparations for the games, and have taken part in venue tours. At a reception last night, the invitations, made out of antique Azeri carpet, were handed over at 20.15 local time.
Elmar Mammadyarov, Azerbaijan’s minister of foreign affairs, said: "We are incredibly proud to be hosting the games and to have been entrusted with making the European Olympic Committees’ dream a reality. The inaugural European Games are not only a chance for athletes to write their names into the history books, they also represent a chance for our nation to host a unique event that will set the standard for future European Games.
"We may be considered a young country, but we are keen to contribute to the progress being made in an inclusive and modern Europe. We intend to ensure this event plays a role in assisting the development of sporting, social and economic progress in Azerbaijan."
Patrick Hickey, president of the European Olympic Committees, added: "Azerbaijan has consistently demonstrated its total commitment to staging an outstanding event next summer, and that can only strengthen the European Games product. It is great to see an ambitious young nation place sport so firmly at the heart of its long-term development, and it is great for the EOC to be playing a role in that strategy."
Earlier this week ,BP, the fuel giant, and Tissot, the Swiss watch brand, were unveiled as official partners of Baku 2015.
BP becomes the oil and gas partner of the games in an agreement under which it will also assist elite athlete development in Azerbaijan, including helping to fund the development of aspiring medal hopes in the host nation ahead of the games.
Tissot is the official timekeeper of the games, and, along with its sister company Swiss Timing, will provide all timing and scoring services for the event and will also have the right to use Baku 2015 games marks, logos, and designations on an exclusive, worldwide basis.