Portugal Chef de Mission José Garcia  ©COP

José Garcia
Chef de Mission, Portugal

1)    Why has it taken so long for Europe to stage its first continental Games?
In my opinion, the intensive competitive timetables and the high level of organisation and participation of the last European Championships of each sport, contributed for this tardy first step.

2)    What makes Baku the perfect host city to stage the inaugural European Games?
Even not knowing in detail the application process presented by Azerbaijan, I’ m sure that the high quality, enthusiasm and even passion that we see these days in the preparation of the European Games in Baku, have been well present from the beginning.

3)    How big do you think your team for Baku 2015 will be and how many sports will you be represented in?
We estimate that our team will embrace approximately 100 athletes representing 13 sports.

Portugal's team for Baku 2015 will comprise approximately 100 athletes across 13 sports
Portugal's team for Baku 2015 will comprise approximately 100 athletes across 13 sports ©Getty Images

4)    How important is it for the success and appeal of the European Games that some sports afford athletes the opportunity to qualify for Olympic Games
Undoubtedly, one of the great engines for the promotion and success of this event reaffirming its importance for the Olympic Movement.

5)    What is the significance of the Games for the European Olympic Movement and how confident are you that they will become sport’s flagship event on the continent?
I’m certain that it will be a great contribution to the union of Europeans and in doing so, it will create another opportunity to claim different sports talent, and it will also value the Olympic Movement and sport.  It’s up to each National Olympic Committees to take this excellent opportunity to be represented by their best athletes.

6)    How impressed have you been by the facilities to be used for the European Games and the work of the Baku 2015 Organising Committee in ensuring their delivery and readiness?
It is amazing the quality of sports facilities that will be used to perform these first European Games. If what really matters is its functionality, it’s impossible to remain indifferent to the beauty and legacy that these Games may mean for Baku and Azerbaijan. Organising an event of this dimension, involving 50 countries and approximately 10,000 athletes and officials, in such a short period of time, is a huge responsibility for any organisation. Considering the quality of work that’s being done, I’m sure that it will be an excellent bet.

José Garcia believes the inaugural European Games could leave a strong legacy in Baku
José Garcia believes the inaugural European Games could leave a strong legacy in Baku ©Getty Images

7)    Are there any sports not represented that you would like to see in the European Games?
I think it is important that all sports that currently belong to the Olympic programme and are not present in this first edition of this European project will become part of the programme for these Continental Games.

8)    How symbolic is it that the first ever European Games will take place in a country that has experienced a major re-birth of its own since gaining independence in 1991?
It will be a huge opportunity for Azerbaijan of making themselves known to the world and reaffirming the identity of the European continent.

9)    How interested do you think the public in your country will be in the Games?
The Portuguese, like other people, like to see their athletes representing their country with dignity. Knowing that about 100 of their best athletes will compete, the public in our country will certainly be involved.

10)    What are you looking forward to most at Baku 2015?

That the legacy of this European project will be reflected in social values of sport and Olympism in Azerbaijan and Europe by increasing the practice by its inhabitants and by the foundation of sports events at the highest level.

Interview by Daniel Etchells