Elguja Berishvili

Elguja Berishvili
Chef de Mission, Georgia

1) Why has it taken so long for Europe to stage its first continental Games?

We can name several reasons, but now the most important thing is that problems belong to the past and we all together will witness an historic event. In a few days the first European Games will commence in Baku. This is really beginning of a new era in the European sport.

2) What makes Baku the perfect host city to stage the inaugural European Games?
It is not accidental that Baku is the city which hosts the first European Games. This is the city where several top level tournaments have been organised within the last decade including European and World Championships. Azerbaijan has made large investments in sport for the last years considering development of sport infrastructure. This is the country with the will and ability to host wide scale competitions. Finally, these are the people  who are always ready to welcome their guests worthily.

3) How big do you think your team for Baku 2015 will be and how many sports will you be represented in?
Georgia will be represented in Baku with a total of 105 athletes competing in 17 disciplines in 13 sports. Our country has never participated before with such a large delegation in any previous competitions organised with aegis of the international Olympic organisations. Total number of sport delegation considering officials, NOC guests, administrative, medical and technical personnel, coaches, referees and journalists will make up about 200 people.

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?
Throughout a year several competitions are organised in Olympic sports to test sport potential of individual athletes and teams. The first European Games will be one of such opportunities with the ranking points contended in 12 sports and the acquired Olympic qualifications that further increases significance of this event.

Georgia are targeting a decent haul of medals and they are expected to do well in the wrestling events
Georgia are targeting a decent haul of medals and they are expected to do well in the wrestling events ©Getty Images

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? 

Much will depend on how the first Games will be organised. We have all reasons to believe that the debut will be successful and this event will become one of the most prestigious events on our continent.

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?
Regretfully, I haven’t been in Baku for a long time, however, I heard from my colleagues that  everything is organised on top level with the most competent and experienced persons involved in the organisational activities.

7) Are there any sports not represented that you would like to see in the European Games? 
On the background of the first Games 20 sports is not a small amount, nevertheless I wish to see more team sports on the programme at future editions. It is a pity that weightlifters will not compete at the Baku European 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? 
I am glad the Games take place in our neighbouring and friendly country. Our countries have gone through a rather difficult and hard way during the last decade. Nevertheless, this joint fight for independence had a successful end. Thus, it is rather symbolic and significant that this wide scale sport forum is organised in our region. As you are well aware after Baku the whole interest of Europe will focus on Georgia where at the end of July our capital will host the 13th European Youth Olympic Festival. Hence, the Caucasus region will take an important place on the European sport map.

Berushvili would like to see weightlifting on future European Games programmes
Georgia's Chef de Mission Elguja Berushvili would like to see weightlifting on future European Games programmes ©Getty Images

9) How interested do you think the public in your country will be in the Games?
Georgian sport fans look forward to the first European Games with huge interest. They will have the opportunity to follow live the competitions organised in Baku during 12-28 June aired by the Public Broadcaster.

10) What are you looking forward to most at Baku 2015?
I expect the great sport celebration, unforgettable Opening and Closing Ceremonies, fair sport competitions and worthy winners among which we will definitely see Georgian athletes as well.

Interview by Liam Morgan