Switzerland's Chef de Mission Ralph Stöckli ©Ralph Stockli/LinkedIn

Ralph Stöckli
Chef de Mission, Switzerland

1) Why has it taken so long for Europe to stage its first continental games?

That’s hard to tell for me because I was not involved in that process. But I guess it was just difficult to find the time to stage an event as big as this since all sports federation have a very tight competition schedule. So a lot of discussions had to be done with all the International Federations involved.

2) What makes Baku the perfect host city to stage the inaugural European Games?
I can imagine, that the people of Baku and Azerbaijan are very pleased and very proud to host the first European Games in history. So I suppose the atmosphere in the stadiums will be very cheerful and this will be wonderful for all the athletes competing.

3) How big do you think your team for Baku 2015 will be and how many sports will you be represented in?
At the moment we think, the Swiss Olympic Team in Baku will consist of 120 to 150 Athletes who will compete in 25 sports. And of course we claim to travel to Baku with a delegation that represents high-quality.

4) How important is it for the success and appeal of the European Games that some sports afford athletes the opportunity to qualify for Olympic Games?
This can be an important point because this certainly helps to create more interest in the media and also in the general public for the European Games. I also believe that the quality of the competitions will raise as most probably the top athletes will compete.

Switzerland's Chef de Mission says his team will be a strong mix of youth and experience at Baku 2015
Switzerland's Chef de Mission Ralph Stöckli says his team will be a mix of youth and experience at Baku 2015 ©Getty Images

5) What is the significance of the Games for the European Olympic Movement and how confident are you that they will become sport's flagship event on the continent?
That is difficult to tell at the moment. The European Games will certainly need some time to establish themselves within the European sports schedule. But in a way I am confident because the European Games deliver an interesting mix between Olympic and Non-Olympic sports and we will see how it all develops.

6) How impressed have you been by the facilities to be used for the European Games and the work of Baku 2015 in ensuring their delivery and readiness?
While visiting Baku last year I got the impression that the European Games are a very prestigious event for the hosts. So I am sure that the athletes will experience a very well organised event and will compete in venues that are very modern and fulfil all the requirements needed.

7) Are there any sports not represented that you would like to see in the European Games?
I would like to see orienteering as another non-Olympic sports being represented at the European Games - since the Swiss athletes are very good at it!

8) How symbolic is it that the first-ever European Games will take place in a country that has experienced a major re-birth of its own since gaining independence in 1991?
Azerbaijan has certainly achieved a lot in the short period of time since gaining independence and I am looking forward to learn as much as possible about the country’s history. As the Chef de Mission of the Swiss Olympic Team it is also important to me that our athletes bring joy and excitement to the people of Baku and Azerbaijan.

Stockli expects the athletes to be greeted by excellent organisation and superb venues at the inaugural European Games
Switzerland's Chef de Mission Ralph Stockli expects the athletes to be greeted by excellent organisation and superb venues at the inaugural European Games in Baku ©Getty Images

9) How interested do you think the public in your country will be in the Games? 
It depends a lot on the Swiss athletes competing. Because the Swiss Olympic Committee leaves the nominations for Baku 2015 up to its Sports Federations, so far I don’t know exactly who will represent our team in Azerbaijan myself. But I am sure that within the next weeks we will all know more and the European Games will get more and more interest by the public in Switzerland.

10) What are you looking forward to most at Baku 2015?
I am looking forward to see our mostly young athletes competing in a multi-sport event that will prepare them for even bigger events in the future, and for sure I am also looking to perfectly organised and interesting competitions in modern venues accompanied by the famous Azerbaijan hospitality.

Interview by Liam Morgan