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The President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Mr Thomas Bach, praised the unifying power of sport to transcend cultural and political differences and bring athletes from all backgrounds together at international multi-sport events like the European Games.
During his visit to the Baku 2015 European Games, Mr Bach said: “We see Russian athletes competing alongside Ukrainians. There are Serbian and Kosovan teams in these Games, and we see Armenian athletes alongside their hosts from Azerbaijan. All these athletes marched together at the Opening Ceremony.
“This is the power of sport to bring people together regardless of background, belief or nationality. This is something that sport can do, and maybe something that only sport can do.”
The IOC President attended the Opening Ceremony of the inaugural European Games alongside dozens of heads of state and IOC members on Friday, before attending Triathlon, Karate and Wrestling competitions and visiting the Athletes Village in Baku.
Mr Bach added: “The Opening Ceremony was truly spectacular, full of history, symbolism and culture. The Ceremony and the whole organisation of the European Games reflect the magnificent job the organisers have done in such a short period of time. It has been a great achievement.”