Manolis Kolympadis

Manolis Kolympadis
Chef de Mission, Greece

1) Why has it taken so long for Europe to stage its first continental Games?
I cannot possibly know why it took so long for the competent European sport organisations to decide about the staging of these Continental Games. The only thing I know is better late than never. We were looking forward to these games and now we hope that the European Games are here to stay.

2) What makes Baku the perfect host city to stage the inaugural European Games?
In my capacity as Chef de Mission of the Hellenic team, I have visited Baku several times and can say that Baku proved to be the ideal host city as the support of the state, the government and the sport institutions of the country ensure the absolute success of the games and will live up to the elite sport of our continent.

3) How big do you think your team for Baku 2015 will be and how many sports will you be represented in?
The Hellenic team consists of 212 people 142 of which are male and female athletes who will compete in 18 out of 20 sports of the programme.

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?
The fact that the International Federations have recognised the European Games offering qualification for Rio 2016 Olympic Games proves how significant this event is.

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? 
I firmly believe that the Baku European Games will be a success. Having seen the facilities that are under supervision of the Government, I can say that they are among the best on international level. It is an undeniable fact that the Organising Committee has set very high standards. The next host cities will be inevitably compared to the first European Games of Azerbaijan. As a result, the future host cities will have to be highly competitive - in a good sense - in every aspect of the organisation of the Games. I am, therefore, confident that European Games will indeed become sport’s flagship event on the continent.

6) How impressed have you been by the facilities to be used for the European Games and the work of the Baku 2015 Organising Committee in ensuring their delivery and readiness?
As I have said earlier, having visited Baku several times, I was impressed by the readiness of the venues and the overall work that the Organising Committee has accomplished. I am certain that these Games will be always referred to as a blueprint for the future games.

Fencer Vassiliki Vougiouka is an international athlete ambassador for the European Games in Baku
Fencer Vassiliki Vougiouka is an international athlete ambassador for the European Games in Baku ©Baku 2015

7) Are there any sports not represented that you would like to see in the European Games?
Athletics is one of the most important sports in the world. I would very much like to see top level athletics included in the programme of the next edition of the Games.

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? 
The fact that a rapidly developing country that has gained its independence a few years ago, has been awarded with the Games is highly symbolic. It shows not only the enormous potential of the people of Azerbaijan and their faith in sport ideals but also their desire to showcase their country worldwide.

9) How interested do you think the public in your country will be in the Games?
As you know, in the last decades, Greece has hosted sporting events of major importance, the most culminating being the Athens 2004 Olympic Games. Greece’s tradition in sports is significant. Thus, the public is very interested in the European Games.

10) What are you looking forward to most at Baku 2015? 
I am looking forward to seeing full stadiums, the people of Azerbaijan supporting the efforts of all the athletes in the venues, and finally to seeing high-level performances that will attract the interest not only of Europe but also of the whole world. 

Interview by Liam Morgan