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October 29, 2012
2012 - Azerbaijan's Year of Sport

AZERBAIJAN GOLD Sharif Sharifov of Azerbaijan celebrates winning gold in the Men's Freestyle 84 kg Wrestling on Day 15 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at ExCeL. (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)
BAKU, October 29, 2012 - The Azerbaijan Republic is the largest country in the Caucasus region located at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe. It is bounded by the Caspian Sea to the East, Russia to the North, Georgia to the Northwest, Armenia to the West and Iran to the South. The landlocked exclave of Nakhchivan is bounded by Armenia to the North and East, Iran to the South and West and Turkey to the northwest.

Azerbaijan has an ancient historical and cultural heritage, including the distinction of being the first Muslim-majority country in which there are operas, theater and plays. The Azerbaijan Democratic Republic was established in 1918, but was incorporated into the Soviet Union in 1920. Azerbaijan regained its Independence in 1991. Shortly thereafter, during the Nagorno-Karabakh War, neighboring Armenia occupied Nagorno-Karabakh and its surrounding territories.

Baku is the capital and the largest city of Azerbaijan as well as the largest city on the Caspian Sea and of the Caucasus region. It is located on the southern shore of the Absheron Peninsula which projects into the Caspian Sea. The city consists of two principal parts: the Downtown and the old Inner City. Baku's urban population was estimated at just over two million people. Officially, about 25 percent of all inhabitants of the country live in the metropolitan city area of Baku.

The basis for sports development and
achievements in this field were laid by the national leader of the country Heydar Aliyev in the 90s of the last century. After the election of the current President Ilham Aliyev as the President of the National Olympic Committee in 1997, attention to the development of sports in Azerbaijan has more increased. It is sufficient to note the fact that with the decree of the President of the Republic, 2012 was declared the “Year of Sports” in Azerbaijan.

Development of sports infrastructure
In Azerbaijan special
attention is paid to the development of sports infrastructure at the state level. 35 Olympic Sports Complexes were built in the last 12 years, construction of 7 complexes is ongoing. 4of these modern sports facilities are located in Baku, the rest are in various parts of the country.

At present a number of
major sports facilities are being built. These are Rhythmic Gymnastics Complex, Water Sports Palace and the Olympic Stadium with a capacity of 65,000 fans.

Olympic representation
After the Independence, Azerbaijan
was represented 5 times at the Olympic Games. Taking part for the first time at the XXVI Summer Olympics Games in 1996, in Atlanta (USA), Azerbaijan National Olympic Team, consisting of 23 athletes in 10 kinds of sports, won 1 silver medal and took 61st place among 197 participating countries.

At the XXVII
Summer Olympic Games in 2000 (Sydney, Australia), Azerbaijan National Olympic Team, presenting 32 athletes in 12 kinds of sports, won 3 medals(2 gold, 1 bronze) and took 49th place among 199 participating countries and 34th place for Quality.

Summer Olympic Games in 2004 (Athens, Greece) Azerbaijan, participating with 38 athletes in 12 kinds of sports, won 5 medals (1 gold and 4 bronze) and took 37th place among 201 countries for the number of medals and 50th place for Quality.

At the XXIX Summer Olympic Games in 2008
, (Beijing, China), Azerbaijan has set its new records. Its own record number is that Azerbaijan National Olympic Team, consisting of 44 athletes in 11kinds of sports, won 7 medals (1 gold, 2 silver and 4 bronze) and at the XXIX Summer Olympic Games took 27th place among 203 countries for the number of medals and 39th place for the Quality.

The XXX Summer
Olympic Games is inscribed with golden letters in the history of Azerbaijan sport. Beating its new record at the London Olympics Games, Azerbaijan, represented by 53 athletes in 16 kinds of sports, won the most exciting victory in its sports history. Azerbaijan athletes won 10 medals (2 gold, 2 silver and 6 bronze), took 30th place among 204 countries for the quality of medals and 24th place for the number of medals, 15th among European countries, the 3rd place among Muslim countries.

At the same time, Azerbaijan has achieved a great success at XIV Summer Paralympics Games in London. Team, won 12 medals (4 gold, 5 silver and 3 bronze), took the 27th place among 166 countries, 12th place among European countries (in Beijing 10 medals – 2 gold, 3 silver, 5 bronze, 34th place).

In 2010 for the first time in the sport history the 1st Youth Olympic Games were held in Singapore. At this event which was represented by 204 countries, Azerbaijani athletes performed with great success. Being represented only by 12 athletes at the Games, Azerbaijan won 8 medals and with 5 gold and 3 silver medals took the 11th place among 204 participants. According to the number of participants, Azerbaijani teenagers took the 2nd place after the team of China among the countries with the best results.

FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup
Recently the FIFA U-17 Women's World
Cup was held in Baku with the participation of teams from 16 countries. To watch such events, as well as the World Championships in various kinds of sports among adults, has become commonplace for Baku sports fans. Each year in the capital Baku and in the new Sports Olympic Complexes, built in various cities of the country, over 40 international competitions are carried out. Only in the last period of 2012, 145 national and 33 international sports competitions were held. Within 9 months of this year, Azerbaijani athletes successfully participated in the international, continental championships and won 83 gold, 125 silver and 182 bronze medals.

Sporting achievements

During 21 years of Independence, the Azerbaijani athletes won at the World and European Championships, Cup Competitions and other respectable international competitions 5,093 medals, of which 1808 gold, 1381 silver and 1904 bronze medals. 1696 of these medals were won in Olympic sports.

AIPS Executive Committee meeting and AIPS Young Reporters Programme, FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup
At the same time with the FIFA U-17 Women's World
Cup, the Meeting of the Executive Committee of the International Association of Sports Journalists (AIPS) was held in Baku. The AIPS 23-day “Program for Young Reporters” for the young sports journalists from 15 countries of 5 continents was organized in Baku.

AIPS Congress 2014
It should be noted that the Congress of the International Sports
Journalists' Association (AIPS) of 2014 will be held in Baku.

FISU Boxing
In November is scheduled the Universiade in boxing with the participation of the student teams from over 100 countries.

Islamic Solidarity Games candidacy announced
At present Baku announced its candidacy for hosting the 4th Islamic Solidarity Games of 2017.

International Chess events and European Games
According to the decision of FIDE, Azerbaijan got the right to host the World Chess Cup of 2015 and the Chess Olympiad of 2016. In addition, the European Olympic Committee put forward the idea at the holding of the European Games for the first time in Azerbaijan.

Finally, we would like to conclude the article with the words of the President of Azerbaijan
Mr. Ilham Aliyev: “It is really a great historical achievement. Azerbaijan is one of the leading sports countries of the world. This victory shows that a lot has been done for the development of sport in Azerbaijan ...”

From the Ministry of Youth and Sports, Azerbaijan

Below: The official opening of the AIPS Young Reporters Progamme, FIFA-U 17 Women's World Cup was attended by Mr Azad Rahimov, Minister for Youth and Sports, Azerbaijan, FIFA President Mr Josef S. Blatter, AIPS President Gianni Merlo, members of the AIPS Executive Committee and young journalists from 5 continents and 15 nations. Photo/Andrea Giannini, AIPS

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