Monday 26 September 2016

Baku pays nearly €88.7 million for European Games opening ceremony

Karolos Grohmann

Published 13/06/2015 | 16:34

12 June 2015; Lady Gaga preforms during the 2015 European Games Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium in Baku, Azerbaijan. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
12 June 2015; Lady Gaga preforms during the 2015 European Games Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium in Baku, Azerbaijan. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
12 June 2015; Flag bearers, including Katie Taylor, front, second from right, carry the EOC Flag during the 2015 European Games Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium in Baku, Azerbaijan. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
12 June 2015; Lady Gaga performs during the 2015 European Games Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium in Baku, Azerbaijan. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE

Friday's opening ceremony for the inaugural European Games in Baku, Azerbaijan, cost a staggering $95 million, officials said on Saturday, making it more expensive than most Olympic Games curtain-raisers.

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The two-hour long ceremony at Baku's Olympic stadium deployed about 2,000 volunteer cast members and 350 production staff but was far smaller in size, personnel and duration than the gigantic Olympic productions at summer Games.

The most recent opening ceremony at the London 2012 Games cost $42 million and had about 10,000 cast members, 12,956 props and a four-hour duration.

Read more: Reid 'expected higher than sixth'  

12 June 2015; Ireland flag bearer Katie Taylor leads her Team Ireland team-mates during the 2015 European Games Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium in Baku, Azerbaijan. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
12 June 2015; Ireland flag bearer Katie Taylor leads her Team Ireland team-mates during the 2015 European Games Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium in Baku, Azerbaijan. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
12 June 2015; Ireland flag bearer Katie Taylor during the 2015 European Games Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium in Baku, Azerbaijan. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
12 June 2015; A video featuring Irish female boxer Katie Taylor is shown on the big screen in the Olympic Stadium during the build up to the 2015 European Games Opening Ceremony in Baku, Azerbaijan. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
12 June 2015; A video featuring Irish female boxer Katie Taylor is shown on the big screen in the Olympic Stadium during the build up to the 2015 European Games Opening Ceremony in Baku, Azerbaijan. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE

The far bigger Olympics host a total of about 10,500 world-class athletes from more than 200 nations while these European Games have 6,000 athletes from 50 European countries.

"There are some invoices still to be paid, but the cost will be about 100 million manat ($95 million)," Sports Minister Azad Rahimov told reporters when asked about the cost of the extravaganza that included a one-song appearance by pop star and six-times Grammy award winner Lady Gaga.

"All the efforts which were made over the last two years have yielded good results. There has been a very positive impression in general and we are very glad," he said.

Read more here: Ireland's Aileen Reid finishes sixth in the triathlon at European Games in Baku  

Azerbaijan said it has spent more than a billion dollars on the June 12-28 event which it hopes will firmly place the country on the global sports map.

Critics have accused the energy-rich nation on the shores of the Caspian sea of suppressing opposition groups and cracking down on dissidents while using the European Games as a tool to promote the country as an ideal host for major sports events.

The Azeri government, which has banned some reporters and human rights groups from entering the country for the Games, has not released a complete budget.

Read more here: Lady Gaga and Katie Taylor star in opening ceremony of European Games  

12 June 2015; Lady Gaga preforms during the 2015 European Games Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium in Baku, Azerbaijan. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
12 June 2015; Lady Gaga preforms during the 2015 European Games Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium in Baku, Azerbaijan. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
12 June 2015; Ireland flag bearer Katie Taylor during the 2015 European Games Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium in Baku, Azerbaijan. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
12 June 2015; Flag bearers, including Katie Taylor, front, second from right, carry the EOC Flag during the 2015 European Games Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium in Baku, Azerbaijan. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
12 June 2015; Ireland flag bearer Katie Taylor leads team-mates during the 2015 European Games Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium in Baku, Azerbaijan. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
12 June 2015; Ireland flag bearer Katie Taylor during the 2015 European Games Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium in Baku, Azerbaijan. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
12 June 2015; Ireland flag bearer Katie Taylor during the 2015 European Games Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium in Baku, Azerbaijan. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE

Organisers built several stunning state-of-the-art stadiums from scratch, constructing a massive athletes' village and using a vast fleet of vehicles on designated Olympic lanes in the capital.

The event, however, has failed to attract top athletes of popular sports such as athletics and swimming, seeing only lower-ranked or junior athletes taking part in those sports. The Olympic stadium will be used for just two days of competitions.

The 2008 Beijing Olympics opening ceremony is considered to be the most expensive event of its kind, although official figures have never been released.

Read more here: Swimmer (15) in a coma with 'serious spinal injuries' after being hit by bus at European Games  

Reuters

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