During the opening of the exhibition attended by politicians, diplomats, photographers, sports aficionados and members of the Azerbaijani diaspora in Nice, a total of 65 photos were showcased. These were selected from more than 300 submissions to the photography competition of the same name organised by TEAS.
The evening began with an opening speech by Annie Lhéritier, President of the Board of the National Museum of Sports, who paid a moving tribute to the victims of the tragic helicopter crash that occurred two days earlier. This claimed the lives of sailor Florence Arthaud, boxer Alexis Vastine, and Olympic champion swimmer Camille Muffat.
Gilles Veissière, Deputy Mayor of the City of Nice, in charge of Sports; Jean-Pierre Mougin, Vice-President of the CNOSF; Marie-Laetitia Gourdin, Head of TEAS France and Nigar Huseynova, Adviser for Political Affairs, Azerbaijani Embassy in France, also took the floor to express their emotions and condolences to the bereaved families.
Then Ms. Lhéritier expressed her delight at hosting this exhibition at the National Museum of Sports. This is the first museum in France to be dedicated to sports, and holds one of the most extensive collections of its kind in the world.
Mr. Veissière stressed his delight at the decision to organise this exhibition in the city of Nice. He commented: "I have had the opportunity to referee about 100 football games in international competitions around the world, but unfortunately never in Azerbaijan. I sincerely hope that the European Games will be an opportunity for me to discover Azerbaijan, and its capital Baku, which has much in common with the city of Nice. "
Mr Mougin said: "France will send a delegation of around 270 athletes to the European Games. It is the second largest delegation behind Germany - a signal of the strong commitment of France to these historic Games. The CNOSF is proud to be associated with TEAS and Baku 2015 to promote the European Games in France through this exhibition, which will also be hosted in June at the CNOSF headquarters in Paris."
Mrs Gourdin explained: "These Games will be the first of their type in Europe, and this historic event will be held in Baku - the capital of the young and dynamic Azerbaijan - which is organising a high-level international sports competition for the first time."
Mrs Gourdin went on to present second prizewinner Paul Robion with a certificate for his photograph entitled Ipanema - Rio de Janeiro. Mr Robion is a French photographer and filmmaker, based in Paris. She continued: "This stunning photograph is also emblematic of the link between the European Games and the Summer Olympics to be held in Rio, Brazil, in 2016. In fact, 12 of the sports in the European Games contribute towards qualification for the Rio Olympics."
Ms Huseynova said: "The practice of sport is a considered as a way of promoting peace. It surpasses the limits of geographical borders and social classes. Sport is a powerful tool for promoting the ideals of brotherhood, solidarity, non-violence, tolerance and justice. Sport has the capacity to unite people. I think this spirit in embodied in this TEAS photographic competition and has managed to develop two important elements - which are culture and sport - and contributes to the strengthening of friendship and solidarity between peoples."
The exhibition will be open to the public from 13-29 March 2015. Following the exhibition in Nice, Azerbaijan - Sport in Focus will be shown in several European capitals and cities - namely Maastricht, Brussels, Istanbul and Berlin, before returning to France. It will be exhibited in Paris at the CNOSF headquarters from 4-28 June, thereby including the entire duration of the Games in Baku.