The stunning opening ceremony of the inaugural European Games took place in Azerbaijan’s capital Baku.
The opening ceremony for June 12-28 European Games – first of its kind – took place at the new Olympic stadium, which was only finished in the spring and can hold 70,000 spectators. Featuring some 2,000 dancers and artists, the Friday event included a “surprise” performance by the famous US singer Lady Gaga, who apparently had to hide in a local hotel for several days to keep her arrival secret.
Traditional music and about 1,000 female dancers set the stage for the lighting of the flame ceremony, which officially opened the games. It was followed by an exposition dedicated to the literary writing of the famous 12th century Azeri poet, Nizami Ganjavi.
Over 6,000 athletes took part in the opening ceremony, which represented all 50 European nations, which have National Olympic Committees.
The dazzling ceremony was concluded by a popular Middle East folk dance ‘Yalli,’ which was performed by over 2,000 people.
Among the guests of honor at the opening ceremony were Russian President Vladimir Putin, the President of the International Olympic Committee Thomas Bach and Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The evening also included speeches from first lady of Azerbaijan, Mehriban Aliyeva, the President of the European Olympic Committee, Patrick Hickey, and President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev, who officially declared the Games open.