Minsk to host 2019 European Games
The 2019 European Games will be held in Minsk after the European Olympic Committees (EOC) general assembly approved the capital of Belarus, the sole candidate, on Friday.
“I am glad to announce that Belarus is ready to host the second European Games in 2019,” Belarus’ President Alexander Lukashenko was quoted as saying in an EOC statement.
“Belarus has a modern infrastructure and facilities capable of staging international competition at the highest level.”
Originally the Netherlands was supposed to host the second edition of the Games but withdrew because of financial concerns. The inaugural multi-sport event was held in Baku in 2015 amid concerns over human rights violations in Azerbaijan.
Belarus will take over following the EOC meeting, held in Minsk, in which it received the backing of 43 National Olympic Committees according to the insidethegames.biz website. Denmark and Norway reportedly voted against while five nations, including Germany, abstained.
“The DOSB (German Olympic Sports Committee) was, after the first edition of the Games took place in Baku in 2015, committed to the second edition going to western Europe instead of again being in a country with a problematic human rights situation,” DOSB chief Michael Vesper said.
Vesper added the DOSB had proposed delaying the decision and, when this was rejected, abstained when presented with Minsk as the only candidate city.
Minsk has recently held major sporting events such as the track cycling world championships, the ice hockey world championship and the European championships in speed skating.
“I am delighted that the general assembly has voted to bring the European Games to Minsk in 2019,” EOC acting president Janez Kocijancic said.
“Minsk has excellent sports facilities and their initial proposal is to use as much existing infrastructure as possible to create a Games concept suited to their national sports identity.”
Kocijancic is acting president as Ireland’s Patrick Hickey temporarily gave up his role as president while being held in Brazil on ticket scalping charges since the Rio Olympic Games in August.