Olympics are catalyst for Azerbaijani link

IPSWICH: With only two years to go until the Olympic Games, connections between Ipswich and Azerbaijan are stronger than ever.

Azerbaijan will use the town as its pre-games training camp for its Olympic and Paralympic athletes.

Ipswich was chosen as the host town because of its “new impressive facilities” and transport connections to Olympic Park.

Fakhraddin Gurbanov, the Azerbaijan ambassador, ventured to Ipswich yesterday for a tour of the town and to discover the various facilities open to his nation’s athletes.

Mr Gurbanov told The Evening Star he had high expectations for the 2012 games.

He said: “The reason I am here is because the athletes of Azerbaijan will be based in Ipswich before the Olympic Games.

“After other representatives came to Ipswich and it was agreed that the team would stay here, I think that it is better to see it once than to hear about it a hundred times.

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“We’re very excited for the Olympic Games, we are always very optimistic and we have had great success in the past.”

Since Azerbaijan became an independent nation in 1991, it has sent athletes to all games and has gained 16 medals.

Andrew Cann, portfolio holder for culture, said: “We’re very excited.

“It is a matching which reflects the town’s new impressive facilities.

“It is not just about the Olympics, it surpasses that – it is also about the economic factors.

“Talks are ongoing about the possibility of twinning Ipswich with a place in Azerbaijan, but it is still at a very early stage.”

n Are you excited by the Olympic Games? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk