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Western Europe preferred to host 2019 European Games

June 24, 2015

BAKU, Azerbaijan (AP) — The second European Games should be in Western Europe following the inaugural event in Azerbaijan, the head of the European Olympic Committees said on Wednesday.

The 2019 games were originally awarded to the Netherlands, which pulled out two weeks ago following a political spat over hosting costs.

“We have a policy in the EOC that we always like to have a geographical spread,” Pat Hickey told The Associated Press.

“It would be my personal wish that we would have gone back to - I don’t like to call it Western Europe - the old part of Europe with the second edition of the games. And Netherlands fitted the bill perfectly there.

“We would have liked to have the second event in the old part of Europe. That could be still possible but, if not, we’ll proceed wherever we think the best place is.”

Hickey said four cities expressed interest in holding the 2019 games after the Netherlands withdrew, but declined to name them. Two of the candidates originally lost out to the Netherlands in bidding, and have approached the EOC again, while the other two are new to the process.

A decision is expected by the end of the year, he added.

“We’ll try and do it faster because we’re conscious to give the cities as much as time as possible for preparation,” Hickey said.

The 20-sport inaugural games in Azerbaijan have not included top-level athletics or swimming. Swimming is for under-18s only, while athletics featured only Europe’s lowest-ranked countries. Talks are underway to bring in a higher level of competition for 2019.

“We always knew from day one that athletics and swimming were not the real deal, so we had different expectations of that,” Hickey said. He added that a good personal relationship with new European Athletics head Svein Arne Hansen could help improve the athletics entries in 2019.

“After this is over, I’ll sit down with him and I would hope that we would have a very good athletics event next time around,” Hickey said. “Swimming we have to sit down and speak with as well.”

The European Games have struggled for coverage in some media markets due to a schedule clash with soccer’s Women’s World Cup. Hickey suggested the 2019 games could be timed to avoid an overlap.

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