The National Olympic Committee of Azerbaijan
The National Olympic Committee of Azerbaijan was established in 1992. Azerbaijan could not be represented as an independent country in the XXV Summer Olympic Games in Barcelona that year, because by the time the Committee was established and licensed by the International Olympic Committee the Games had already started. This time five sportsmen from our country had to participate in the Games as a part of the team of the Commonwealth of Independent States. Despite this Barcelona Games were a new page in our Olympic history. The flag of Azerbaijan was raised and the hymn of Azerbaijan was played in these Games. The Olympic Committee was supposed to expand its activities and join the international Olympic Movement after Barcelona Games. We know that Olympic Movement is not limited to the participation at the Barcelona Games only. It was demanded to carry out various activities related to the Olympic Movement.
The President of the International Olympic Committee Juan Antonio Samaranch, the President of National Olympic Committees Association Mario Vázquez Raña and the President of the European Olympic Committee Jacques Rogge came to Baku to get familiar with the situation of promoting the Olympic Movement and the activities of the National Olympic Committee in Azerbaijan in 1994. They were greeted by the President of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev. Exchange of thoughts about the real situation of the Olympic Movement in Azerbaijan and its development perspectives was carried out in the reception.
In general the notable happenings in the activities of Azerbaijan National Olympic Committee in 1992-1997 consist of our participation in European Teenagers’ Olympic Days and hosting International Running Days in Baku. The most prominent event for this period is the participation of Azerbaijan in Olympic Games as an independent country for the first time in 1996. The President of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev played a very important role in realization of this historical event. The Decree about preparation to Atlanta Games, the constant monitoring on the preparation activities and increasing the state support and attention for the sportsmen yielded its results. Azerbaijan was represented in Atlanta with 23 sportsmen and won one silver medal.
We should note that the works carried out during the first five years of the existence of National Olympic Committee generally were not in the required level and considered satisfactory. It was important to make some significant changes in the work process. The next Head Majlis of the National Olympic Committee appointed the new board of directors on July 31, 1997. Ilham Aliyev was appointed the President of the Committee. He defined the activity directions of the Committee.
Olympic Movement in our country
Glorious pages have been written in the book of the sports history of Azerbaijan during the past 10 years. During this time Azerbaijan has almost turned into an Olympic country. Great revival has been observed in the development of sports and Olympic movement when we pay attention to the past period. As we already know, even though the Olympic Committee was established in 1992 Olympic movements started in Azerbaijan in 1997 after Ilham Aliyev was elected the President of the National Olympic Committee. He has been successfully leading the National Olympic Committee since 1997. During this time the organizational and reconstruction works of the National Olympic Committee has not slowed down even for a moment. Construction of new and modern sport complexes has already been completed and they are being exploited my people in the village of Mashtagha of Baku, Ganja, Nakhchivan, Shaki, Quba, Barda and other cities. At the moment the number of complexes in use is 18. The biggest value to the activities of the NOC was given by Jacques Rogge, the President of the International Olympic Committee saying that the National Olympic Committee of Azerbaijan should be an example for other Olympic committees. Achievements in sports are very obvious. It is impossible to deny them. This is demonstrated both by the official statistics and the competitions of our sportsmen often shown on TV and mass media. Doing sports has become a great factor in Azerbaijan. The observed flow to the sports facilities shows one more time that our children and young people want to do sports. This is first of all because being a sportsman is a glorious profession. This development means both bringing up our young people in a patriotic spirit and strengthens our army. On the other hand, those people who do sports and reach great achievements in international competitions are decently awarded and supported by the National Olympic Committee. Thus, favorable conditions were created for the development of sports in Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan has already taken its decent place in international sports world. Azerbaijan has turned into a sports country. In 1998 our country joined Winter Olympic Games for the first time. Our Republic was represented with 5 sportsmen in four competitions in XVIII Winter Olympic Games which took place in the city of Nagano in Japan. The sportsmen of Azerbaijan won 2 gold and 1 silver medals in Sydney Olympic Games in 2000. The team of Azerbaijan took the 34th place among 199 countries and 23rd place among European countries. This was the biggest success of the country in the Olympic movement. Azerbaijan became a participant of the Winter Olympic Games again in 2002. Our sportsmen participated in three competitions in these Games that took place in Salt Lake City of the USA. Finally we won five medals for the first time in our history of sports in the Olympic Games that took place in Athens. All these must be evaluated as successful results of the organizational works of Mr. Ilham Aliyev. President Ilham Aliyev’s solving the problems of children and youth one after another and creating wide and comprehensive conditions for realizing their potentials and skills through the line of NOC has become one of the most important directions of the activities of our country.
At the moment 64 types of sports are being developed in our country. 53 sport federations, 66 sport organizations, 60 sport clubs and 170 sport schools operate in our country. 23 of the federations develop Olympic and 36 non-Olympic sport types. At the moment more than 365489 people are engaged in physical education and sports. More than 945 medals have been brought to our country from international championships during the past 15 years.
Of course the development of the Olympic movement in our country is unambiguously related to the name of the President Ilham Aliyev. Olympic Games play a unique role in terms of introducing and promoting world countries and people to each other. Azerbaijan has had serious achievements in Olympic Games. In this sense preparation and participation in the Chinese Games draw more attention. The purpose behind participation in the Chinese Games is to decently fulfill the sports glory of Azerbaijan and to raise the tricolor flag of the independent Republic of Azerbaijan with a moon and a star. The President of the country Ilham Aliyev’s providing pensions for every sportsman and trainer by the NOC and the Ministry of Youth and Sports is one of the elements that positively influence the Olympic Movement in our country. In one word, NOC shows special care for the development of sports and Republic Olympic movement in Azerbaijan. In this sense the positive results of the past experience must also be applied towards developing sports among youth and teenagers and bringing it to a higher level. We have to confess that in a very short time our sportsmen have defended the glory of Azerbaijan and increased its fame in the Olympic Games. At the same time the NOC has gained great influence in world scale and its activities and achievements have been notable. Of course this has to be evaluated as the logical result of the processes that go on in Azerbaijan. It would also be appropriate to say that European and world championships that Azerbaijan hosts have a chain character. Thus, Azerbaijan’s hosting various international championships on rhythmic gymnastics, taekwondo, wrestling, boxing, karate and other such Olympic type of sports every year has helped our country gain a positive image in sports as a developed country, just like in all other spheres.
I must also confess that sport is becoming massive in the country very fast today. This encourages our people to even bigger victories.
Supporting and taking care of our sportsmen is being continued in a state level. There is no doubt that the will and attention of the country President Ilham Aliyev will bring many new achievements to our country towards sports and Olympic movement, just like all other fields.
For this reason all agencies and NGOs in our country should be active in order to help with anything dependent on them besides showing respect to the sportsmen who will participate in Olympic Games in China in 2008.