Dutch plan nationwide bid for 2019 European Games

BERLIN (Reuters) - The Netherlands will launch a bid to host the second edition of the European Games in 2019, planning a financially low-risk nationwide concept for the continental competition.

The inaugural European Games is being held in Baku, Azerbaijan in June and will be the first continental multi-sports event for the region’s senior athletes.

“The organisation of the European Games in 2019 is a special opportunity for the Netherlands,” the Dutch Olympic committee said in a statement after their general assembly on Tuesday.

“The Netherlands has the opportunity to present itself as a prime example of how to organise a ‘next level’ multi-sport event.”

The new event is based on a concept similar to other regional gatherings such as the Pan-American or Asian Games and are scheduled to be held a year prior to the Summer Olympics with qualifying spots and points on offer.

They are also seen as a chance for smaller cities to bid for a major sporting event with a budget a fraction of the size needed to host an Olympics.

The Games will also serve as a springboard for future Summer Olympic candidacies with Baku already mulling a possible bid for the 2024 Olympics.

“The 2019 Games will themselves help develop top talent, provide inspiration to young people in the Netherlands and enthusiasm among the population,” Dutch Olympic Committee head Andre Bolhuis said.

Bolhuis added that the bid would not see any major infrastructure investment and financial guarantees from the relevant bodies would be secured this year.

There is no other official candidate for the 2019 edition with the European Olympic Committees (EOC), in charge of the Games, saying a decision on the host city would be made later this year.

The European Games will also have competition from the European Sports championships to be launched in 2018.

The Dutch have a long Olympic involvement with Amsterdam hosting the 1928 Olympics. King Willem-Alexander is also a former International Olympic Committee (IOC) member.

Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; Editing by John O’Brien