Involvement in struggle for the right to hold in Baku Summer Olympic Games of 2016 and 2020 is a prime example of the development of sport in Azerbaijan, Azerbaijani Youth and Sports Minister Azad Rahimov said on Tuesday during a speech at the Heydar Aliyev Center at a seeing off ceremony of an Azerbaijani delegation that will participate in the XXX Summer Olympics 2012 in London.
Despite the fact that Baku could not overcome the stage of the struggle for the election of candidates, extensive work was carried out on the stage of selection of the applicant city, the minister said.
"We believe that the experience gained in this area will help in the struggle during holding of upcoming Olympic Games," he said.
Little time left before the Olympics in London, Rahimov said. Encouraging is the fact that the national Azerbaijani Olympic team performs on such a grand event in the extended format, it is represented by 53 athletes.
"In order to develop sport in Azerbaijan, to expand the Olympic movement, to construct new sports and the Olympic facilities, as well as to ensure high performance of Azerbaijani sportsmen in the London Olympics, World and European Championships, 2012 was declared the "Year of Sport", which has a positive effect on training for the Olympic Games," Rahimov said.
The minister said that today Azerbaijan as one of the world centers of sport hosts large sporting events. For example, in 2011 Azerbaijan hosted 36 international competitions.
"During the first half we held in Azerbaijan 28 international competitions. To date, 126 republican activities were held, participation of country teams in 217 international activities, 79 training camps was provided.
The competitions, organized in the preparatory period for the Olympics, were significant in terms of propaganda of Azerbaijan. In particular, it's necessary to mention the International bike tour dedicated to the memory of Heydar Aliyev held in May, among bicyclists under 23 years with the participation of 180 athletes.
The Minister stressed that the number of medals won in Olympic sports, has rapidly increased. Thus, on the eve of the Olympic Games in Atlanta (1993-1996), this figure was 71, in Sydney (1997-2000) - 146, Athens (2001-2004) - 262, Beijing (7 months of 2005-2008 ) - 476, on the eve of the Olympics in London (6 months (2009-2012) - 835.
"As you can see, number of medals won in Olympic sports increased approximately twofold on the eve of each Olympiad compared to the previous Olympic Games. Especially worth mentioning that if Azerbaijan won 44 licenses and was introduced in 11 sports during the Olympic Games in Beijing, then it will be presented in 16 sports with 53 licenses in London," Rahimov said.
In general, Azerbaijani sportsmen will take part in additional five sports - canoeing, rowing, cycling, gymnastics and fencing at the London Summer Olympics compared to the summer Olympics in Beijing. If at the Olympic Games in Beijing Azerbaijan was represented only by one judge (wrestling - Hijran Sharifov), in the Olympic Games in London three Azerbaijani judges - (Ajdar Jafarov, Hijran Sharifov - wrestling, Vahid Nazarov - weightlifting) will participate. In addition, there are 6 doctors and 29 coaches. Forty one sportsmen out of 53 are representing Azerbaijan in the Olympics for the first time. Azerbaijani team is international in composition and consists mainly of titled athletes.
"The good news is that there are young athletes in our team, who were born during the period of independence and representing our country at the Olympics for the first time," Rahimov said.
The minister noted that a sport delegation will leave for London in two groups - first group - on July 24, the second - on August 4. Ceremony of raising of Azerbaijani flag will be held on July 25 in the Olympic village where athletes will be placed.
Preparation for the Day of Azerbaijan, which will be held on July 28, is nearing completion. The participation of representatives of the International Olympic Committee, a number of national Olympic committees and international federations in the event is expected.