European Games Executive Director Simon Clegg concluded a five-day visit to Minsk last Friday 18 May, calling his first official trip to the host city of the 2019 European Games “enlightening, educational and encouraging.”
“The first thing that struck me was the very important place sport plays in Belarusian society,” said Clegg, the former Baku 2015 Chief Operating Officer who was reappointed to his European Games role on 11 May. “After visiting every competition and training venue I am confident that Belarus has the necessary sporting infrastructure and personnel to deliver an excellent European Games next year.”
In addition to meetings with Belarus Deputy Prime Minister Vasily Zharko, Sports Minister Sergey Kovalchuk and CEO of the Minsk European Games Organising Committee (MEGOC) George Katulin, Clegg also met individually with the Director or lead of each of MEGOC’s functional areas. Clegg also met Beach Soccer’s visiting Deputy Vice-President Gabi Renales and Technical Delegate Josep Ponset who were in Minsk to review their sport’s progress.
“The venues look very impressive indeed, many having been built for the 2014 World Ice Hockey Championships, providing excellent spectator capacities and adjacent training facilities,” Clegg said. “Renovations on the few facilities requiring it are well advanced and I’m confident that the field of play will be excellent for the athletes and provide a great broadcasting backdrop.”
Clegg’s new role will see him regularly in Belarus until Games time, scheduled for 21-30 June 2019. He will continue to work closely with MEGOC for the successful delivery of the second edition of the Olympic Movement of Europe’s premier event.
In total, 4,082 athletes from all 50 European National Olympic Committees will compete in 15 sports in Minsk: 3×3 basketball, archery, athletics, badminton, beach soccer, beach volleyball, boxing, canoe sprint, cycling, judo, karate, sambo, shooting, table tennis, and wrestling. Ten of the 15 sports will act as qualifiers for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, with the European Games also counting as the official European championships for four sports.
There will be 91 men’s events, 89 women’s events and 21 mixed events in total, with 115 universality spots available. All sporting venues will be located a maximum 30 minutes’ drive from the Athletes’ Village, ensuring athletes can easily travel to training and competition facilities.