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The Baku 2015 European Games as a national milestone of post-Soviet Azerbaijan

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  10 January 2019

Ekain Rojo-Labaien*
Nor Research Group, University of the Basque Country UPV/EHU, Leioa, Spain


The Baku European Games, the first multi-sport mega-event held at a European level, was a major public relations undertaking by Azerbaijan. The games were framed by a trend involving large-scale sports events promoted by the Ilham Aliyev government, based on the profits of the second oil boom in the twenty-first century. The sports event served to internationally portray Azerbaijan as a rapidly developing country and in this way to increase national consciousness within the society, which was lacking a collective narrative in the post-Soviet era. Nonetheless, the downturn due to the fall of international oil prices negatively affected the impact of the sports mega-event. Moreover, the sports competition symbolized the government's commitment to impose reasons of state and nation-building over social needs and political freedoms in Azerbaijan. This article is based on empirical fieldwork carried out in Baku in the months following the multi-sports event.

Copyright © 2018 Association for the Study of Nationalities 

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