The European Games Athletes' Village featured traditional songs and dancing on the eve of competition today in Minsk ©Getty Images

The 2nd European Games set to get underway here tomorrow and run until June 30 will involve a total of 3,667 athletes from 50 nations.

There will be a total of 15 different sports, of which eight will carry elements of Olympic qualification.

Those sports are archery, athletics - which has its own new "DNA" format which will culminate in a team event where the final race will see teams handicapped on time according to their points gained - badminton, cycling, judo, karate, shooting and table tennis.

For the latter two sports Olympic qualification is simply expressed - winners in the shooting and finalists in the table tennis will earn automatic places for Tokyo 2020.

Olympic qualification remains one of the trump cards in the hands of the event organisers, the European Olympic Committees, given the timing of the Games relative to the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

For two sports - judo and boxing - the action here will constitute its European Championships, while for canoe sprint this will be a de facto European Championship.

Rehearsals for tomorrow evening’s Opening Ceremony have been producing booming sound all day today.

Organisers are hoping that the bad weather forecast for tomorrow will have abated before the Ceremony gets underway.

But before the Belarus capital gives itself over to a noisy celebration of its hosting, three sports will get underway tomorrow – 3x3 basketball, archery and boxing.

While boxing no longer carries any Olympic qualification element - given the current confusion over the International Boxing Association - the event here at the Sports Palace Uruchie has European title status.

Azerbaijan's Cuban-born Lorenzo Sotomayor will be seeking to go one better at Minsk 2019 in having won silver in the under-64 klogram class at Baku 2015 ©Getty Images
Azerbaijan's Cuban-born Lorenzo Sotomayor will be seeking to go one better at Minsk 2019 in having won silver in the under-64 klogram class at Baku 2015 ©Getty Images

Lorenzo Sotomayor of Azerbaijan is one of a host of boxers at the Games hoping to match or improve on their achievements at the event's inaugural edition in Baku four years ago.

While the action in the Azerbaijani capital featured the rise of current undisputed world champion Katie Taylor of Ireland, and British heavyweight Joe Joyce, this time round the focus will be on performers such as Sotomayor, now 34, who will defend his European Games title in the under-64 kilogram class.

France’s Sofiane Oumiha, a silver medallist at Baku 2025 and Rio 2016 in the under-60kg category, will be seeking the top step of the podium.

On the women's side one of the favourites will be Poland's Sandra Drabik, who will be seeking gold after taking silver at Baku 2015, where she was beaten by Britain’s Nicola Adams, who will not feature in Minsk.

The archery competition follows closely upon the World Championships.

While South Korea and Chinese Taipei were dominant in ‘s-Hertogenbosch in The Netherlands this month there were also top performances by many European athletes who will be in action here.

The competition in the Belarusian capital will have extra impetus with the winners of the recurve mixed team competition earning National Olympic Committee (NOC) quota places for Tokyo 2020. 

Individual slots for Tokyo 2020 will also be up for grabs with the NOC of the three highest-ranked athletes earning one quota place each in the relevant gender.

In the recurve mixed team event at ‘s-Hertogenbosch, there was silver for The Netherlands - the nation's first World Championship medal in the event.

Gabriela Bayardo joined the recurve world indoor individual and team champion Sjef van den Berg at their home event and they will be among the main contenders at Minsk 2019 

Van den Berg was fourth at Rio 2016 and should be on course for Tokyo 2020 after The Netherlands qualified the full men’s quota of three.

Excitement is building in Minsk as the 2nd European Games gets ready to open ©Minsk 2019
Excitement is building in Minsk as the 2nd European Games gets ready to open ©Minsk 2019

Kseniia Perova of Russia, Lisa Unruh of Germany and Yasemin Anagöz of Turkey are among the contenders for the women’s recurve title.

Mike Schloesser of The Netherlands - known as "Mister Perfect" since he shot the first perfect 600 in World Archery competition in 2015 - will be the man to beat in the men’s compound individual.

The next generation of 3x3 basketball stars will be on display as Russia attempt to defend their men’s and women’s gold medals from Baku 2015.

With the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) 3x3 World Cup taking place concurrently in Amsterdam, Minsk 2019 will offer teams a chance to showcase their depth and young talent.

On the men’s side, Russia and Baku 2015 bronze medallists Serbia are expected to battle for gold, while the absence of Baku 2015 runners-up Spain opens up a place on the podium for a host of challengers, led by Slovenia.

Russia, the world’s number one country in 3x3 basketball overall and also in the men’s under-23 category according to FIBA rankings, have selected a young team for Minsk 2019, with all four players aged 24 or under.