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Azerbaijan National Olympic Committee: The main thing for Azerbaijan in Olympics 2010 is to participate

29 January 2010 [18:00] - TODAY.AZ
XXI Olympic Winter Games will start in Vancouver, Canada on Feb. 12. Azerbaijan will be represented by two skiers Cedric Notts and Gaia Bassani Antivari in Canada.

Day.Az interview with Vice President of Azerbaijan's National Olympic Committee Chingiz Huseynov.

For the first time since  Azerbaijan's participation in the Winter Games, the country will not be represented in figure skating competitions. Azerbaijani sportsmen were not allowed to license tournaments.

Unfortunately, our skaters will not participate in the major winter sports event held every four years. We had a good couple - Kristin Fraser-Igor Lukanin. They have completed a career. Azerbaijan has a young skaters - a single skater Joelle Forte and Fedor Andreev, as well as a dance duo Virginia Hoptman - Paul Phylchenkov. However, we have faced problems like other countries. This applies to those states who have transferred figure skaters.

The fact is that the International Skating Union (ISU) has introduced new requirements. ISU is not satisfied with the fact that skaters take a new nationality and have passports of that country. More recently, the Union required a certificate confirming the legality of issuance of the passport. The United States and some other countries have a body which issues such certificate while such a body simply does not exist in most countries, including Azerbaijan.

Estonia and Lithuania have encountered similar difficulties. It's no secret that Russia's figure skaters perform for many countries. In my opinion,  the latest ISU decision aims to reduce outflow of Russian athletes to nearby countries. Basically, this concerns the post-Soviet area. Today, ISU is the only federation putting forward such stringent requirements. Nevertheless, we are negotiating. We will ask to allow our skaters to perform at the post-Olympic competitions.

Where Azerbaijani skiers are preparing for the Games?

They are preparing for the Games back in their home: Cedric Notts in Switzerland and Gaia Bassani Antivari - in Italy. Both these countries have very good conditions for training. So, it does not make any sense to invite them to Baku for training. We hope that we will get prepared for the Games in our country once ski complex in Gusar is built.

As far as I know,  Notts worked in Baku and he got to Azerbaijan’snational team not accidentally. How Azerbaijan Federation of Winter Sports spotted Bassani Antivari?

She offered her services to our Federation herself. Naturally, we hope that our skiers will win medals. We are not expecting high places. It is important for us to participate.

By the way, I want to note that Gaia’s performing under Azerbaijan’s flag has caused extra interest to Azerbaijan in Italy. In particular, a number of Italian companies have offered to sponsor an athlete and to provide costumes for our team on favorable terms.

Which company did you choose finally?

Carra will provide sportswear for our athletes. White and black tones with national patterns and colors of our flag will dominate in their sportswear.

Who will be standard bearer of the Azerbaijani national team at the opening ceremony?

Most likely, Cedric Notts. We will make the final decision in Vancouver. Chef de mission of the Azerbaijani delegation will be chief specialist of the National Olympic Committee on Foreign Relations Konul Nurullayeva. Our sport delegation will also include downhill skiers, their coaches and representatives of the Federation of Winter Sports. I will lead the delegation. I, as representative of the National Olympic Committee of Azerbaijan, will hold many meetings traditionally organized by the IOC during the Olympics. There will be an opportunity to meet with sports leaders from other countries.

Did you have a traditional pre-Olympic study tour to the city hosting the Olympics?

No. We were invited to visit Vancouver. Since Azerbaijan will be represented only by two athletes, there is no point in spending a lot of money for a trip to Canada. We make such trips  before summer games, of course, and familiarize ourselves under what conditions our athletes will live. For example, prior to the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, I visited the Chinese capital three times.
What do you expect from the Vancouver Olympics?

Olympics is interesting primarily for the sports competitions. I think  hockey finals will be culmination of the upcoming Olympics as teams from Canada and Russia will meet

As a NOC representative, I look forward to innovations that are being introduced at every Olympics. Principles of the Olympic Games are becoming more perfect. This concerns accomodation of athletes, their residence, transportation and security.

We are closely watching all the innovations. Although Azerbaijan has not yet held such mass sports forums like the Olympics, however, an experience that we acquire on the Games help us in organizing the World and European championships held in Baku on many occasions.

E. Aliyev

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