EOC President Spyros Capralos, right, revealed two candidates are in the running for the 2027 European Games ©Kraków-Małopolska 2023

President Spyros Capralos has revealed here the European Olympic Committees (EOC) is in discussions with two unnamed candidates for the next edition of the European Games in 2027, and has insisted it is "flexible" over the sports programme.

The inaugural European Games was held in the far east of the continent in Azerbaijan's capital Baku in 2015 followed by Belarus' capital Minsk in 2019, two hosts who faced criticism for the human rights records of their dictatorial regimes.

Poland is staging the ongoing Games in Kraków and the Małopolska region, and the EOC has previously hinted at interest from further west in Europe.

The Netherlands was initially awarded the 2019 edition of the European Games, but dropped out which led to Minsk stepping in.

Speaking prior to the Games, Greek official Capralos revealed the possible hosts for 2027 had been narrowed down to two, although a decision is not expected until after Kraków-Małopolska 2023.

"We are discussing with two potential candidates to organise the Games of 2027," the International Olympic Committee member said.

"We have not concluded yet, so we will wait until after the Games here to announce when we are ready, but I am sure we will have a very good organiser."

The identity of the cities interested in staging the 2027 edition is unknown, although reports emerged earlier this year that Split in Croatia wants to stage the multi-sport event.

A decision on the host for the 2027 European Games is not expected until after Kraków-Małopolska 2023 ©Getty Images
A decision on the host for the 2027 European Games is not expected until after Kraków-Małopolska 2023 ©Getty Images

The programme for Kraków-Małopolska 2023 is back up to 29 sports from 15 at Minsk 2019, of which 21 are Olympic and eight non-Olympic disciplines.

Gymnastics and swimming are two of the notable absences from this year's edition, but Capralos said the EOC had provided opportunities to new sports to showcase their Olympic potential and remained flexible over the programme for future hosts, although it hopes for events to be able to attract Europe's top athletes.

"The European Games goal is to bring the best European athletes to compete and to make sure the sports that are included in the programme will be either qualifying events for the Olympic Games or European Championships," Capralos said.

"Therefore, we are flexible in the programme because we also deal with the organisers of the next events, and we see the sports of interest to the organiser and we are trying to include them in cooperation with the European sports federations.

"We are open.

"The next edition will be in 2027, one year before the Los Angeles Olympic Games, and depending also on the programme of the Los Angeles Olympic Games will decide what sports will be in the programme.

Spyros Capralos said the EOC is
Spyros Capralos said the EOC is "flexible" on the programme for future European Games, and in Poland had "eight new sports to give them a try" ©Kraków-Małopolska 2023

"Here for example, we tried to have eight new sports to give them a try, see how popular they are and see the reaction of the fans and audiences on television.

"It may be that these sports have a bigger chance for the future.

"We tried that at the first European Games, where some sports that were included for the first time, at that time it was 3x3 basketball, and later on became an Olympic sport.

"Karate became an Olympic sport later on in Tokyo.

"We are trying, and I think this provides a good laying of the ground for the International Olympic Committee to see these sports and to evaluate."

Kraków-Małopolska 2023 is due to run until July 2.