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Chair of the Baku 2015 European Games Organising Committee and First Lady of Azerbaijan Merhiban Aliyeva last night praised all those who took part for ‘making the European Games an unforgettable festival of sport.’
The flame was extinguished in a spectacular Closing Ceremony in Baku tonight, which saluted those that had contributed to 17 days of sporting and organizational excellence.
In her closing address to the packed 68,000-seater Olympic Stadium in Baku, the First Lady said: “We are proud that the first European Games were held in our country. We are proud that within only two and a half years Azerbaijan has turned its commitment into a reality, and delivered a sporting event of the highest standard. Over the last 17 days we witnessed unity, solidarity and friendship between European nations.
“As the curtain falls on this celebration of sport and friendship, I’m overwhelmed by an enormous sense of pride in our country and our people. The past 17 days will live forever in our hearts. It will be an unforgettable moment in our history that passes down through the generations.”
She thanked the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev and the entire population of the country for the support they gave the Azerbaijan athletes, who finished second in the medal table. “The entire nation is proud of our athletes. They have won a total of 56 medals – including 21 gold medals – and finished second in the overall medals table. Athletes of Azerbaijan, your success makes you a great example to the next generation,” she added.
To the cheers of the packed stadium, the First Lady continued with praise for the European Olympic Committees, the volunteers from both Azerbaijan and abroad as well as the Games Organising Committee.
She thanked EOC President Patrick Hickey for his ‘vision and determination (that) turned the idea of a European Games into a reality’ and the Chair of the Coordination Commission, Spyros Capralos, for ‘his invaluable guidance during our preparations.’
And a special thanks were reserved for the ‘wonderful volunteers’ when the First Lady said: “We could not have staged this event without you. Your enthusiasm and professionalism has helped us to bring the spirit of Baku 2015 to life. A country which has such a talented youth has a great future.
“A big thank you also to our international volunteers. You travelled to Azerbaijan from across Europe to help us organise this historic event and to be a part of this festival of sport and friendship. We will miss you and hope you will come back.
“Azerbaijan opened its arms and its heart to Europe. We welcomed old friends and made new ones.
This evening we say goodbye to you all. But we hope to see you back in Azerbaijan for future events.”