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A happy union of European Championships


Between the end of the Tour de France and the onset of the football season we were given the opportunity to enjoy a couple of weeks in which an appealing initiative witnessed the European Championships in seven different sports taking place simultaneously. Six of these were in the same city, Glasgow, with the athletics taking place in Berlin with the German capital having been selected to host the biennial event the creation of the umbrella tournament. The track and field competition was akin to a mini-Olympics, tightly packed and magnificent. It was a televisual spectacle of the highest order. The idea to combine several different sports in the inaugural edition of the European Championships was a huge success, interest being piqued in every event on a grander scale than they would have been had they been held individually. There was a large audience throughout the whole of Europe.

The initiative was, of course, a response to the 2015 European Games in Baku, also the first edition of that multi-event competition. There will be a second one in Minsk in 2019 after Amsterdam elected against hosting it. The European Federations were not amused by the intrusion of a new competition hammered into the schedule, not least because it was viewed as a blatant attempt to replace, sooner rather than later, the traditional continental competitions. With that in mind, it was little surprise that participation in Baku was less than spectacular, with the federations closing ranks in the fear that the International Olympic Committee was preparing to pick their pockets.

The 2018 European Championships were the brainchild of the European Athletics and Swimming Federations, which comprise the two main Olympic sports. Added to these were gymnastics, cycling, rowing, triathlon and golf. The European Broadcasting Union was quick to spot the potential of the format and fans of these disciplines across Europe have enjoyed the gift during these very appropriate dates. The idea is to hold the European Championships in this manner every four years and Barcelona has emerged as a potential host city for its next appearance. It will of course provide a strong challenge to the European Games, the first edition of which was not as successful as these championships have been.