Be­larus cap­i­tal seems main con­tender for 2019 Euro­pean Games

Malta Independent - - SPORT -

Minsk has emerged as the main con­tender to host the 2019 edi­tion of the trou­bled Euro­pean Games.

In com­ments re­ported by state news agency Belta, Be­laru­sian Na­tional Olympic Com­mit­tee vice pres­i­dent Maxim Ryzhenkov said “our Euro­pean part­ners are very in­ter­ested in the sec­ond Euro­pean Games tak­ing place in Be­larus.”

The com­ments came ahead of a meet­ing of the Euro­pean Olympic Com­mit­tees in Minsk this week.

The for­mer Soviet repub­lic of Be­larus, which has been ruled by au­thor­i­tar­ian Pres­i­dent Alexan­der Lukashenko for more than two decades, could be a con­tro­ver­sial choice as host na­tion be­cause of its record on hu­man rights.

With the coun­try in re­ces­sion, Be­larus could also face fi­nan­cial pres­sures in host­ing the event.

The 2019 Euro­pean Games were orig­i­nally due to take place in the Nether­lands, which pulled out last year cit­ing fi­nan­cial rea­sons. Rus­sia was con­sid­ered as a pos­si­ble re­place­ment by the EOC, but re­peat­edly de­clined to host the games.

The in­au­gu­ral Euro­pean Games were held last year in Baku, Azer­bai­jan, and faced con­tro­versy over hu­man rights is­sues and dif­fi­cul­ties in at­tract­ing top ath­letes. The games also stretched Azer­bai­jan fi­nan­cially with con­struc­tion of many new venues and a lav­ish open­ing cer­e­mony which cost $95 mil­lion alone, ac­cord­ing to Azer­bai­jan’s sports min­is­ter.

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