Azerbaijan is the protagonist of a great sport

A key chapter of the 2022 Formula One World Championships will be held on June 12 at the fierce Baku circuit: the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. A classic of motorsport, since the first edition of 2017, which is one of the greatest expressions of sports diplomacy that has rewritten the international image of Azerbaijan.

Formula 1 and lots and lots of football

Since 2016, the Baku circuit, inaugurated that same year hosting the last edition of the European Grand Prix, has hosted the major events of Formula 1. And this year, Sunday, June 12, 2022, will be the roof -for the fifth. time – of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, valid for the Formula 1 World Championship.

Azerbaijan has not always been a country for big sporting events. This was the case in the 2000s, driven by President Ilham Aliyev’s early election to make sport a strong point for Azerbaijan, investing in the construction of futuristic infrastructure and the modernization of the existing ones.

In 2014 completion of the works in the National Gymnastics Pavilion. In 2015, the inauguration of the Baku Olympic Stadium and the renovation of the Baku Sports Palace. In 2016 the opening of the Baku circuit. A series of buildings built or rebuilt from scratch that facilitated the magnetization of various types of events: from car races to the Olympics.

Since 2000, thanks to the enrichment of the tourist offer, the filling of the urban landscape with new infrastructures and the increase of the celebrated soft power, Azerbaijan has attracted the most important sporting events in Europe. Asia and the Whole Planet: The Olympic Games – more specifically the Taekwondo Classifications for the 2004 Summer Games – the first edition of the European Games – in 2015 -, the fourth season of the Islamic Solidarity Games – in 2017 – and high-level football – of the UEFA Europa League 2018/19. final at UEFA Euro 2020.

Sport and multivectorality

Azerbaijan has built a foreign policy based on so-called multivectorality: the compass of national interest that simultaneously points to the four cardinal points, without implying or giving rise to any contradiction. All partners are equal, and no one is more equal than the other. A re-proposed (successful) logic in the field of sports.

In the name of multivectorality, Baku has become home to a heterogeneous and vast array of sporting events laden with economic value and bearers of identity meanings. UEFA European football championships and tournaments – indicating the (much) “desire for Europe” of the ruling class. The Islamic Solidarity Games – an expression of the anchored identity of the Azerbaijani nation, founded on the pillars of Turkish and Shiism. The World Games of the Nomadic Peoples – Baku could host the 2024 edition – to celebrate and remember the ancestral and nomadic origins of the Azerbaijanis.

The case study of Azerbaijan is an example of the potential of soft power and a possible reference model for all those countries that want to invest in sport as a social element, thinking about the benefits for the younger generations. , as an instrument of knowledge of sport. the country abroad. A case that (de) shows the importance of sport: magnet of great events and unifier of peoples.

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