Ilham Aliyev, President of Azerbaijan, proclaimed 2012 as the “Year of Sports” in the country.
The President said he intended the initiative to boost and expand the Olympic Movement throughout Azerbaijan, and also give a boost to Azeri athletes’ preparations for London 2012, adding that the initiative would also ensure that all young Azeris regularly took part in sport, as well as promote a healthy lifestyle throughout the country.
The President said that the country’s Ministry of Youth and Sport has been asked to develop an action plan, which would include the development of additional sports complexes around the country. According to a press release, in recent years more than 30 complexes have been built in all major towns and cities.
President Aliyev said, “the fact that Azerbaijan has hosted world championships in wrestling, boxing and rhythmic gymnastics, and that we are preparing to host Women’s Football World Cup in 2012, and also bidding to host the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, is evidence that Azerbaijan is fast becoming an international sports events destination”.
Azad Rahimov, Minister for Youth and Sport, said, “sport is deeply rooted in Azerbaijani culture to the extent that sport is a very common theme in many of the nations major literary epics and poems.
“In Azerbaijan we believe passionately in the transformative powers of sport and in particular the Olympic and Paralympic values of respect, excellence, friendship, courage, determination, inspiration and equality. These are truly nation-building values – and if we are chosen as the 2020 host city, together we can extend these Olympic ideals to millions of new hearts and minds in Azerbaijan, embracing the spirit of unity so inherent in the Olympic Movement”.