Minsk could host the 2019 European Games ©Getty Images

Minsk will step in to host the 2019 European Games, Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko is expected to announce here tomorrow.

But the European Olympic Committees (EOC) have been warned that they and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) must burden some of the cost and that the sports programme will have to be reduced from the inaugural event at Baku last year.

The EOC have been searching for a host city since The Netherlands withdrew on the eve of Baku 2015 and then Russia dropped out of the running after the IOC  warned they would not support events there following allegations of state-sponsored doping.

Lukashenko, also President of the National Olympic Committee of the Republic of Belarus (NOCBelarus), will address the opening of the 45th EOC General Assembly where he is expected to make the announcement.

"No-one in Europe will question Belarus’ ability to host such a big sport event," said Maksim Ryzhenkov, first vice-president of the NOCBelarus.

"There are enough successful examples, such as the 2014 IIHF [International Ice Hockey Federation] World Championship, which show that Belarus will cope with the organisation of sport tournaments of different levels."

Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko is expected to make the announcement tomorrow ©Getty Images
Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko is expected to make the announcement tomorrow ©Getty Images

But Minsk wants to avoid the huge spectacular that Azerbaijan staged last year when there were a total of 20 sports, many of them taking place in new or renovated state-of-the-art arenas.

"Money is the main issue here," said Ryzhenkov.

"The second European Games will require huge investments.

"The European Olympic Committees is ready to reconsider the format of the event in order to attract more countries wishing to host the event.

"Belarus invites the International Olympic Committee and EOC to assume part of the expenses and cut down the number of sports in order to reduce the burden on the budget of the event."

Awarding the European Games to Belarus, however, would lead to more criticism of the EOC due to allegations of poor human rights in Belarus.

Lukashenko has been criticised for human rights violations and persecution of non-governmental organisations, independent journalists, national minorities and opposition politicians.