One Year To Go To Tokyo 2020


Azerbaijan

Azerbaijan

Host nation Azerbaijan was represented by 285 athletes at Baku 2015, winning 21 gold, 15 silver and 20 bronze medals.

The country ranked second in the final standings, only behind Russia.

Judoka Elmar Gasimov served as Azerbaijan's flagbearer at the Opening Ceremony, while boxer Teymur Mammadov, the men's 81 kilograms champion, did so at the Closing Ceremony.

According to a survey among 150,000 youngsters in Azerbaijan, 80 per cent of people there believe Baku 2015 boosted the international image of the nation.

The build-up to the Games was overshadowed by protests about Azerbaijan's human rights record and its relationship with Armenia.

The event, however, was widely considered a success.

Nearly 6,000 athletes representing all 50 members of the European Olympic Committees took part in the Games, comprising 253 events in 20 sports.


Austria

Austria

Austria was represented by 143 athletes at Baku 2015, winning two gold, seven silver and four bronze medals.

The country ranked 20th in the final standings.

Swimmers Sebastian Steffan and Caroline Pilhatsch both claimed a gold medal, in the men’s 200 metres individual medley and women’s 50m backstroke events respectively.

Shooter Andreas Scherhaufer served as the country's flagbearer at the Opening Ceremony, while Pilhatsch did so at the Closing Ceremony.


Armenia

Armenia

Armenia was represented by 25 athletes at Baku 2015, winning one silver medal through Greco-Roman wrestler Migran Arutyunyan.

Hrachya Rostomyan, the Armenian Olympic Committee secretary general, served as the country's flagbearer at the Opening Ceremony, while Armenia was the only nation not to have an athlete flagbearer present at the Closing Ceremony with a figure in Baku 2015 uniform carrying out the duty. 

Armenia confirmed it will compete in the inaugural European Games in March 2015, despite its continuing conflict Azerbaijan.

A final decision was made by the Executive Committee of the Armenian National Olympic Committee following months of deliberation.

Fierce tension has existed between Azerbaijan and Armenia ever since the two countries received independence in 1991 following the break-up of the Soviet Union over ownership of Nagorno-Karabakh, a landlocked region in the South Caucasus which lies within Azerbaijan's internationally recognised borders.

More than 30,000 people were killed and 1.2 million displaced before Russia brokered a cease-fire in 1994.

The mountainous region, inhabited predominantly by ethnic Armenians, provoked more tension in the months leading up to Baku 2015 after Azerbaijan shot down what it claimed was an Armenian military helicopter on their territory east of Nagorno-Karabakh, killing three crew members.


Andorra

Andorra

Andorra was represented by 31 athletes at Baku 2015, but failed to win a single medal.

Shooter Esther Barrugues Alvina served as the country's flagbearer at the Opening Ceremony, while swimmer Eric Fernandez Malvar did so at the Closing Ceremony.


Albania

Albania

Albania was represented by 27 athletes at Baku 2015, but failed to win a single medal.

Taekwondo player Ada Demneri served as the country's flagbearer at the Opening Ceremony, while judoka Igli Ramosacaj did so at the Closing Ceremony.


Minsk 2019 mascot

Lesik has his own dedicated Instagram page ©Minsk 2019
Lesik has his own dedicated Instagram page ©Minsk 2019

Lesik the baby fox was unveiled as the mascot for the Minsk 2019 European Games during a special ceremony in the Belarusian capital in November 2018.


Story behind Lesik

Lesik represents friendship, development, harmony, discipline, determination, cheerfulness, invincibility and vigour.

As the famous novella by French writer Antoine de Saint-Exupéry goes, "The Little Prince" came to earth and befriended a little fox, who taught him about many things, including the meaning of friendship.

The story of the Minsk 2019 mascot begins when the Little Prince returned home, leaving earth and Lesik behind.

Having made such a good friend in the Prince, Lesik quickly missed him and all he could think about was finding new friends.

He walked all over his neighbourhood in search of friends, helping his legs grow extremely strong.

He also listened very hard in the hope he could hear potential friends, making his ears grow large.

One day, he heard the story of a legendary fern flower called the Paparats Kvetka that could make all his dreams come true, but he would have to travel to Belarus to find it.

Belarus was far away from Lesik’s home, but he decided that if he was to find true friendship again, he would have to make the journey.

Thanks to his fitness tracker, Lesik knows it took a million steps to reach Belarus, but it was worth it.

Lesik represents friendship, development, harmony, discipline, determination, cheerfulness, invincibility and vigour ©Minsk 2019
Lesik represents friendship, development, harmony, discipline, determination, cheerfulness, invincibility and vigour ©Minsk 2019

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Come to the Games

Lesik now has many friends and wants to make even more.

He is inviting everyone around the world to visit him in Belarus and to see the Paparats Kvetka in person.

There is no better time to do so than in 2019, the year of the second European Games in Minsk.

Lesik is pretty easy to spot with his red hat, white and green shirt, black shorts, blue shoes and yellow fur.

The hat represents vigour, while the shirt represents harmony, the shorts represent discipline and determination, the shoes represent invincibility and the fur represents cheerfulness.

The colours of the items feature in the Paparats Kvetka design on the Minsk 2019 logo.

Lesik also wears a cap saying 2019 will be the brightest year of his life and the brightest year for sports in Europe.

Lesik now has many friends and wants to make even more ©Minsk 2019
Lesik now has many friends and wants to make even more ©Minsk 2019

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Unveiling ceremony

The unveiling ceremony was attended by officials from Minsk 2019, the Belarusian branch of UNICEF and children from the Belarusian Association of Assistance for Children and Young People with Disabilities.

Also present were Olympic canoe sprint champion Aliaksandr Bahdanovich, a Star Ambassador of Minsk 2019, and Rashed Mustafa Sarwar, a UNICEF representative in Belarus.

Local bands Lifesound and Aura, as well as Daniel Yastremsky, who represented Belarus at the 2018 Junior Eurovision Song Contest, performed for the guests.

"The mascot that has been just presented here is the result of collaboration of a Belarusian designer and MEGOC (Minsk European Games Organising Committee)," Anatol Kotov, the deputy chief executive of Minsk 2019, said at the time.  

"In our opinion, Lesik will fit perfectly into the overall concept of a grand sporting event to be held next summer.

"We’re planning plenty of promotional activities with the mascot.

"Let this character bring his spark to the long-awaited event.

"And we want the little fox to find friends not only in Belarus, but throughout the world."

Daniel Yastremsky, who represented Belarus at the 2018 Junior Eurovision Song Contest, performed at the ceremony to mark the unveiling of Lesik ©Minsk 2019
Daniel Yastremsky, who represented Belarus at the 2018 Junior Eurovision Song Contest, performed at the ceremony to mark the unveiling of Lesik ©Minsk 2019

Rashed Mustafa Sarwar, a representative of UNICEF in Belarus, added: "A bright energetic character - this is exactly how the mascot of a major sporting event should be.

"One of the colors of our organisation is the same as the one of Lesik is.

"I think, therefore, our relationship with the Games will become even stronger.

"I have no doubt the children will like the mascot and help us to commit the upcoming event to our memory for a long time.”

An Instagram account for Lesik has been set up and can be viewed here.

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Ice sculpture

A two-metre ice sculpture of Lesik and the Minsk 2019 logo has been unveiled in the Belarusian capital.

The unveiling of the sculpture at the Dreamland Amusement Park was held alongside a winter festival for European Games staff and volunteers, as well as park visitors.

Those attending the festival were divided into teams to compete in street games such as leapfrog, limbo and tug-of-war.

A two-metre ice sculpture of Lesik and the Minsk 2019 logo has been unveiled in the Belarusian capital ©lesik_2019
A two-metre ice sculpture of Lesik and the Minsk 2019 logo has been unveiled in the Belarusian capital ©lesik_2019

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