Greek Olympic chief to head up European Games commission

Capralos will lead a 16-man team, with Zlatko Mateša, president of the Croatian Olympic Committee, serving as deputy chairman. The Greek Olympic chief hit the headlines last year after becoming embroiled in a tickets scandal surrounding the London 2012 Games. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) in December ordered four National Olympic Committees (NOCs) to discipline officials after a newspaper ‘sting’ led to accusations that they had offered to supply London Olympic Games tickets to the black market.

According to the IOC Ethics Commission, six officials “helped tarnish the reputation” of the Olympics when they spoke to undercover reporters from UK newspaper the Sunday Times several weeks before the start of the Games. The IOC named Capralos and Greek Olympic head of marketing Nicole Avramidou, Maltese Olympic Committee president Lino Farrugia and secretary general Joe Cassar, and the secretary generals of Lithuania and Serbia, Vytuatas Zubernis and Djordje Visacki, respectively. Owing to Capralos’ high-profile role, he had caused “even greater damage to the Olympic Movement,” the Commission stated. Capralos broke ethics rules “even if the aim was apparently to fund athletes,” the ruling added, before insisting that Olympic executives “must behave impeccably”.

The EOC said each member of the European Games Commission will take responsibility for specific technical areas to ensure a “robust and rigorous” assessment process for Baku 2015’s preparation. EOC president Patrick Hickey said: “This is a very strong Coordination Commission for the inaugural European Games – Baku 2015. Each member comes with a wealth of expertise and experience that will help the EOC to ensure that these historic Games set the highest of standards for the next edition of the European Games to follow in 2019.”

The Baku 2015 Organising Committee, chaired by Mehriban Aliyeva, the First Lady of Azerbaijan, will also nominate technical experts who will be announced in due course. Hickey continued: “I am confident that with such a visionary organising committee and this powerful Commission overseeing the Games preparation, we can meet our ultimate aim: to engage and involve more of Europe’s youth in sport through innovative and flexible means. These Games will enable new markets to gain experience in hosting major sports events whilst giving elite European athletes an opportunity to compete on their home continent.”

The European Games was launched following a majority vote of 49 NOCs during the EOC General Assembly in December. The EOC’s 41st General Assembly in Rome saw 38 votes cast in favour of the Games, with eight against and three abstentions. The prospect of a European Games was first suggested in 2010 and will give the continent an event similar to the long-established Pan-American Games and Asian Games. The EOC stated that the majority of European federations of summer sports have committed to help deliver a Games programme that will be announced later this year, adding that it will soon start to review the bidding process for the 2019 Games.