Minister of Youth and Sports of the Republic of Azerbaijan,
Chief Executive Officer of Baku 2015 European Games Operation Committee


Azad Rahimov, Azerbaijan's Minister of Youth and Sports, is the man entrusted with delivering history.

He is responsible for turning the vision of the European Games - an event talked about for more than 20 years - into reality in 2015.

With the European Olympic Committees awarding the Games to Baku at its General Assembly in Rome only in December 2012 it means that the build-up will be more of a sprint than a marathon.

Most cities awarded events of this scale are given at least seven years to prepare but Baku have been given less than three and the clock is ticking ever faster, it seems.

But Rahimov encapsulates the "can do" spirit pervading the organisers in Baku.

"The decision of the European Olympic Committees created excitement among the Azerbaijani people," said Rahimov, who is also serving as the Organising Committee's chief executive.

"We are honoured to hold the first ever European Olympic Games in Baku.

"As you know, the first step in any job always demands much more responsibility.

"In this way, we are doing our best to organise the Games at the highest level, so we will be able to justify the confidence of the people who voted for the candidacy of Baku, and amaze the sporting community with our organisational experience."

Hosting the Games will be the culmination of a period of spectacular growth for Azerbaijani sport under Rahimov.

Rahimov, a graduate of Azerbaijan University of Languages where he earned a degree in English, assumed his current role in 2005 when the country's President Ilham Aliyev decided to set up a separate Ministry for Youth and Sports.

Azad Rahimov Baku 2015Azerbaijan's Minister of Youth and Sports Azad Rahimov claims he will "amaze the sporting community with our organisational experience." ©Baku2015

Since Rahimov took over Azerbaijan have enjoyed record-breaking Olympic performances, claiming seven medals, including a gold, at Beijing 2008 and improving on that four years later with 10 medals, two of them gold.

This has led to a new found respect for the country, something that extends to both on and off the field of play following the country's successful hosting of the 2012 FIFA Under-17 Women's World Cup, an event featuring 16 countries playing in six venues across the country.

"Every year the number of international competitions organised in our country increases," said Rahimov.

"In the coming years, the number and quality of the competitions will improve.

"We are now looking forward to host the 2015 Chess Olympiad and the 2015 World Chess Cup in Baku.

"In addition to hosting the inaugural European Games in 2015, Baku also has the fourth Islamic Solidarity Games in 2017."

But, if events like the European Games act as the shop window for Azerbaijan, then Rahimov also makes sure that the grassroots is well catered for.

"Over the past 10 years, 35 Olympic sport complexes have been built," he said.

"They provide a great opportunity for the development of sports in each region.

"As a result, our youth is growing up healthy and strong and a new generation of athletes is emerging.

"At the same time, the opening of such complexes in the regions means athletes have the ability to compete at various levels as the country is able to hold more and more events."