2015 European Games

The 2015 European Games, also known as Baku 2015 or Baku 2015 European Games (Azerbaijani: Bakı 2015 Avropa Oyunları), were the inaugural edition of the European Games, an international multi-sport event for athletes representing the National Olympic Committees (NOCs) of the European Olympic Committees. It took place in Baku, Azerbaijan, from 12 to 28 June 2015,[1] and featured almost 6,000 athletes from 50 countries competing in 30 sports, including 15 summer Olympic and 2 non-Olympic sports.[2][3][4]

I European Games
Host cityBaku, Azerbaijan
Nations participating50
Athletes participating5,898
Events253 in 30 sports
Opening ceremony12 June
Closing ceremony28 June
Officially opened byPresident Ilham Aliyev
Torch lighterIlham Zakiyev, Said Guliyev, Aydemir Aydemirov and Nargiz Nasirzade
Main venueBaku National Stadium
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Host selection

Baku was awarded the right to host the first European Games at the 41st EOC General Assembly in Rome, on 8 December 2012. The European Games will take place every four years thereafter, with the next competition due to be held in 2019.

The decision was made as a result of secret balloting, where of 48 votes, 38 were in favour of the sole bidder for the event.[5] Eight votes were against, and two more abstained from voting. The representatives of Armenia refused to take part in the voting.[6]


The Organising Committee responsible for the inaugural European Games in Baku was established by decree of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan. The Committee is chaired by the First Lady of Azerbaijan Mehriban Aliyeva,[7] member of the Executive Committee of the National Olympic Committee of the Republic of Azerbaijan and UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador. Baku 2015 European Games Operations Committee (BEGOC) was established under the direction of the Chairperson of the Organising Committee.

The Chief Executive Officer of BEGOC is Azad Rahimov, Minister of Youth and Sport while the Chief Operating Officer is Simon Clegg.[7]


There were four clusters and 18 competition venues for the inaugural European Games, including 12 that were designed to become permanent venues. Five of the venues were new-builds: the National Gymnastics Arena, BMX Velopark, Baku Aquatics Centre, Baku Shooting Centre and National Stadium. There were six temporary venues: Water Polo Arena, Beach Arena, Basketball Arena, Mountain Bike Velopark, Triathlon, Cycling road race and time trial.

The Athletes Village, located in the Nizami raion of Baku,[8] comprises 13 buildings, 16 different types of apartments with three to four bedrooms per apartment.[9]

Key to colours
E Existing
N New
T Temporary
Village cluster
Baku National StadiumCeremonies, athletics68,000N
National Gymnastics ArenaGymnastics6,862N
Flag square cluster
Baku Aquatics CentreSwimming, diving, synchronized swimming6,000N
Water Polo ArenaWater polo2,400T
Beach ArenaBeach soccer, beach volleyball3,900T
Basketball Arena3x3 basketball2,500T
Crystal HallVolleyball6,000E
Fencing, karate, taekwondo2,000
City cluster
Baku Sports HallBadminton, table tennis1,700E
Tofiq Bahramov StadiumArchery31,200E
Heydar Aliyev ArenaJudo, wrestling, sambo7,700E
Other venues
Baku Shooting CentreShooting500N
Mountain Bike VeloparkMountain biking1,670T
BMX VeloparkCycling BMX1,600N
Bilgah BeachTriathlon1,500T
Kur Sport and Rowing Centre, MingachevirCanoe sprint1,300E


The local organising committee launched an online sales page on its website to allow fans purchasing tickets for the inaugural event.[10]

Adult tickets for sport sessions range between AZN 2 – AZN 5, according to competition round (for example preliminary or final), seat category, and venue.


Organisers aimed to recruit 12,500 volunteers to play roles during the Games, including assisting athletes and dignitaries, working at sport competitions, or providing assistance to spectators or the media. Baku 2015 European Games volunteers were called Flamekeepers.[11] 6,000 Ceremonies Performers voluntarily took part in the opening and closing ceremonies.[12]

Opening ceremony

Closing ceremony

The Closing Ceremony was held on 28 June in the National Stadium. James Hadley was the Artistic Director and Christian Steinhäuser was the Music Director of the Closing Ceremony.[13]


Participating NOCs

50 national olympic committees participated in this European Games edition, including the Olympic Committee of Kosovo in its first time at a wide multi-sport event. Since the Faroe Islands and Gibraltar are not members of the European Olympic Committee, the Faroese participants occurred for the Ligue Européenne de Natation and the Gibraltar participants for the Athletic Association of Small States of Europe.

An exception to the ban on Armenian citizens or people of Armenian ethnicity entering Azerbaijan (because of the state of war between these countries) was made for these games; see Armenian ethnicity.

Participating National Olympic Committees[14]


A total of 20 sports was represented: 16 Olympic sports, two Olympic sports contested only in non-Olympic formats (basketball and football) and two non-Olympic sports (karate and sambo). Two para-sport events were contested judo. Twelve of the sports (archery, athletics, boxing, cycling, judo, shooting, swimming, table tennis, taekwondo, triathlon, volleyball, wrestling) would offer qualification opportunities for the Rio 2016 Summer Olympics. The aquatic sports are only open to junior-level competitors, and the athletics competition forms the third division of the European Team Championships.


The competition schedule consists of 253 events.[16][17]

OCOpening ceremony Event competitions 1Event finals CCClosing ceremony
June 12th
Archery 1 2 1 1 5
Athletics 1 1
Badminton 2 3 5
Basketball (3x3) 2 2
Beach soccer 1 1
Boxing 5 5 5 15
Canoe sprint 5 10 15
Cycling BMX 2 8
Mountain biking 2
Road cycling 2 1 1
Diving 2 2 2 2 8
Fencing 2 2 2 3 3 12
Gymnastics 2 1 2 3 10 16 34
Judo 5 6 5 2 18
Karate 6 6 12
Sambo 8 8
Shooting 3 3 2 2 3 3 3 19
Swimming 7 8 9 7 11 42
Synchronised swimming 2 2 4
Table tennis 2 2 4
Taekwondo 2 2 2 2 8
Triathlon 1 1 2
Volleyball 1 1 1 1 4
Water polo 1 1 2
Wrestling 4 4 4 4 4 4 24
June 12th

Medal table

  *   Host nation (Azerbaijan)

2015 European Games medal table
1 Russia (RUS)794045164
2 Azerbaijan (AZE)*21152056
3 Great Britain (GBR)18111847
4 Germany (GER)16173366
5 France (FRA)12131843
6 Italy (ITA)10261147
7 Belarus (BLR)10112243
8 Ukraine (UKR)8142446
9 Netherlands (NED)812929
10 Spain (ESP)8111130
Totals (42 NOCs)253253339845


International Sports Broadcasting (ISB) will be the host broadcaster of the European Games.[18] During the Games, ISB will produce an anticipated 800 hours of broadcast coverage.

Rest of the world


Human rights situation and media bans

Amnesty International have been a vocal critic of the Baku 2015 European Games, stating in March 2015, "Azerbaijan may be a safe country for athletes taking part in the 100 metres, but defending rights and free speech is a dangerous game here. Those who champion them receive harassment and prison sentences instead of medals.".[45] In August 2014, the human rights organisation highlighted the 24 prisoners of conscience being held in Azerbaijan prisons as an example of abuses.[46] Western countries also criticized Aliyev's intention to close the OSCE offices in Baku.[47]

In June 2015, The Guardian reported that its own reporters, along with those of other media outlets, had been barred from entering Baku to cover the games. Human Rights Watch, in the same article, stated it had observed "the worst crackdown the country has seen in the post-Soviet era".[48]

Most European heads of state and government refused to participate at the opening ceremony,[49] sending mid- or low-level representatives instead. Among those who did participate were Vladimir Putin of Russia, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of Turkey, Aleksander Lukashenko of Belarus, Boyko Borisov of Bulgaria and Victor Ponta of Romania. Ponta and Borisov faced criticism at home for their participation.[47]

Bus accident

For many, the Games were overshadowed by a road accident, where a coach driver ploughed into a group of young Austrian athletes when mixing up accelerator and brake, with the incident recorded by a surveillance camera. 15-year-old Austrian synchronized swimmer Vanessa Sahinovic and her teammates Lisa Breit and Luna Pajer were injured. Sahinovic was placed in an induced coma and flown to Vienna for emergency surgery. Sahinovic was left paraplegic in the accident. Because of the accident, Austria had to withdraw from the team competition. In the synchronized swimming duet competition, sisters Anna-Maria and Eirini-Maria Alexandri however won the silver medal which they dedicated to the injured teammates. The police officer who released the video of the surveillance camera was relieved of his duties. Sahinovic works on her recovery, and is supported by an initiative of Austrian swimmers and a fundraising campaign.[50][51][52][53][54][55]


Logo and mascots

The official logo for the 2015 European Games was unveiled on 16 June 2014.[56] Designed by Adam Yunusov, it was inspired by country's ancient and contemporary culture.[57] The logo includes flame, water, the mythical Simurgh bird, an Azerbaijani carpet and a pomegranate as one of the symbols of Azerbaijani profusion.[57][58] The pomegranate, called Nar (pomegranate in Azerbaijani), is one of two mascots for the Games, along with a gazelle named Jeyran (gazelle in Azerbaijani). The couple are intended to represent the spirit of Azerbaijan and help excite the youth for the event.[59]

Brand and visual identity

The brand incorporates traditional Azerbaijani imagery with images and colours designed to evoke a European sporting feel. The pomegranate tree, whose fruit juice is one of Azerbaijan's main exports, features heavily. The brand was created with legacy potential in mind, possibly inspired by the way the Commonwealth Games’ branding retains a similar feel each year.[60]

As Azerbaijan as a state sponsored Spanish football club Atlético Madrid at that time, this European Games was advertised on the club's kits during the later half of their 2014–15 season.


On 21 May 2014, Procter & Gamble became the first official partner of the inaugural European Games.[61][62] Swiss watchmaker Tissot has been named the official timekeeper and will provide all timing and scoring services.[63] On 13 November 2014, Motorola Solutions also teamed up with Baku 2015 as the Official Radio Communications Supporter.[64]

Official partnersOfficial supportersOfficial child rights organisation

Torch relay

On Sunday 26 April the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, captured the official flame of the Baku 2015 European Games.[65] The flame had visited 60 locations until the final torchbearer entered the National Stadium for the Opening Ceremony on 12 June.[66]



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