June 17th, 2015


When profit turns sport into a monster's ally

There were just two EU representatives at last week's opening ceremony of the newly launched European Games in Baku, Azerbaijan. And, while the visit of Romanian prime minister Victor Ponta did cause a scandal, after the Romanian president Claus Iohannis had said he hadn't been informed about it, and qualified it as a "diplomatic gaffe", there was no problem for Vladimir Putin, Recep Erdogan, Alexander Lukashenko and Tomislav Nikolic to be present there - as well as the president of Turkmenistan, Gurbanguly Berdimukhamedov, and his Tadjik counterpart Emomali Rahmon.

The first European Games in history started in Baku last week, and will proceed until June 28. There will be over 6000 athletes from 50 European countries, competing in 20 sports.

The Azeri government had long been preparing for this event. For a simple reason: sport can be easily used to create a positive international image for a country. Azerbaijan was aiming to place itself on the world's sports map, particularly the European map - and be noticed.

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