The two separate suicide bomb attacks – which left more than 34 people dead – on December 29 and 30 sparked widespread security concerns ahead of next month’s Winter Games, but International Olympic Committee (IOC) member Hickey insisted it is important that the EOC maintains its solidarity with Russia at this “crucial time” for the country and the Olympic Movement.
“Our 49 member countries start the year preparing for the Olympic Winter Games in Sochi and I know they are determined to help make the Games a celebration of the finest athletic achievement,” Hickey said in his New Year message published today.
“Like the rest of the world, I was shocked and saddened by the recent terrorist attacks in Volgograd, but I would like to reiterate IOC President Thomas Bach’s words following the tragedy when he said that ‘terrorism must never triumph’.”
Hickey also said that 2014 will be particularly important as the continental body prepares to host its first own multisport event, the European Games – which will be staged in the Azerbaijani capital of Baku in 2015, with the next Coordination Commission visit scheduled for April 3 and 4 this year.
Baku already received praise for its progress last year, when Hickey toured the venues ahead of the second EOC Coordination Commission meeting in October.
The event is expected to feature 18 sports and most of the venues have been finalised, including the state-of-the-art Crystal Hall, which will host boxing, fencing, karate, taekwondo and volleyball.
“The Games has the support of Azerbaijan’s First Lady, Mehriban Aliyeva, who is chair of the Organising Committee, and Azerbaijan’s Minister of Youth and Sports, Azad Rahimov,” he said.
“The Organising Committee has 18 months to deliver what promises to be a world-class event and I am confident that Baku 2015 will make huge strides this year.
“The EOC Coordination Commission, led by President of the Hellenic Olympic Committee, Spyros Capralos, will be on hand to support the Committee throughout its preparations and ensure that Baku 2015 gives the European Games concept a fantastic lift-off.”
Hickey rounded off his message by highlighting the fight against “all forms of corruption in sport, particularly the scourges of match-fixing and doping” must continue to guarantee a safe future for the movement.
“The integrity of sport is central to its appeal to participants and fans and the EOC will continue to play a crucial role in fighting these battles,” he added.
Contact the writer of this story at emily.goddard@insidethegames.