Azerbaijan on the Croisette of the Mediterranean resort of Cannes on Friday morning. Flags from the Caucasus fluttered in the breeze part of the celebrations to mark the launch of events prior to the first European Games. An informal five kilometre race race was part of the day’s events.
The competition was not quite as sharp edged as it will be in the Games the stiffest opponent was probably the searing sun.
It was open to everyone with the first three to cross the line winning an invitation to attend the prestigous event in Baku the capital of Azerbaijan.
Twenty-five-year old Maxence Vaudelin jogged to victory with the appreciative applause of the crowd ringing in his ears.
“Taking part with Sunday runners was not demanding. The race was a very friendly one,” he said.
The wife of the President of Azerbaijan Mehriban Aliyeva was present and was joined by one of her daughters who also took part in the race adding a lot of glamour to the occasion.
The first lady had the honour of awarding the runners with their prizes.
The launch was held during the days of Azerbaijani culture which is being currently staged in Cannes.
Present too was Azad Rahimov the Minister of Youth and Sport.
“To host such kind of events is very important for every city of the world. This kind of event change the infrastructure of the city. It’s a change also in the mentality of the people,” he said.
The first European Games will take place in a years time in Baku. Six thousand athletes, members of 49 delegations are expected to be there for the summer showpiece event.
Twenty disciplines will be represented with nine qualifying for the Olympics.