Baku 2016 On IOC Shortlist?

Will Baku 2016 be there when the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announces the shortlist for the 2016 Summer Olympic Games June 4 at its session in Athens? Baku 2016 bid officials aren’t holding their breath.

Matthew Moore of the Telegraph reports that with inadequate infrastructure, sparse public transport, alleged press censorship, and little sporting pedigree outside the worlds of wrestling and gymnastics, no one outside Azerbaijan is taking the bid seriously.

But, according to the Telegraph, the Azerbaijanis are. The bid has its website which was just relaunched, a logo, and a $20 billion investment plan.

The Telegraph reports that money from the 730,000 barrels of oil produced in Azerbaijan each day will fund the 2016 Games.

The Telegraph quotes bid team officials saying, “those responsible for the city and the 2016 Baku bid are especially highly motivated to make a clear statement with the conversion of the Bibi-Heybat oil field – rich in history and beset by environmental problems – into a lively, flourishing Olympic Park Precinct. This process of transformation is to become the symbol of an exciting new beginning for the entire country”.

But while they say they have a track record of hosting “major” sporting events such as the European Gymnastics Championships and World Freestyle and Grecoroman Wrestling Championships in 2007, the newspaper says that even bid leaders admit their chances of getting the Games are slim.

And chances of making the shortlist are even slimmer.

Azad Rahimov, Azerbaijan’s Youth and Sports Minister says, “submitting a bid now builds a foundation for a time when Azerbaijan is better known and better positioned to bid again. These preparations will give us a lot of experience and we want that. And for a small country like ours it also means fantastic publicity”.