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Azerbaijan: Bid For 2024 Summer Olympics

2533 words - 10 pages

Azerbaijan, located within the Caucasus region between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea, was characterized by CultureGrams in 2013 as having a mild climate and great wealth potential (1). After gaining political independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, the country has made significant progress in terms of economic, political, and human development issues. By virtue of its status as a developing country, Azerbaijan strongly desires to improve its standing and respectability in the eyes of the international community. One of the outlets through which Azerbaijan aspires to accomplish this goal pertains to international sport, or more specifically the hosting of the quadrennial Summer Olympic Games, a process overseen by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). The IOC has twice rejected the Olympic bids of Azerbaijan’s capital city Baku over the last decade, but the city refuses to give up as evidenced by a statement from Konul Nurullayeva, CEO of Baku’s 2020 bid committee, claiming that the city’s bid in 2024 “will be even more convincing” (Baku 1). In spite of critics who vilify Azerbaijan for its unresolved human rights issues, the IOC should give Baku the opportunity to host the 2024 Summer Olympics because of Azerbaijan’s flourishing economy and commitment to progress as well as Baku’s key existing infrastructure.
Understanding the makeup and growth of Azerbaijan’s economy requires knowledge of the geopolitical negotiations surrounding the oil reserves of the Caspian Sea. As explained by Pinar Ipek, professor at Bilkent University, in “Azerbaijan’s Foreign Policy and Challenges for Energy Security,” the actual legal classification and division of the Caspian Sea has historically been the subject of a dispute with great economic repercussions for the countries involved. Ipek explains that Russia and Iran preferred to classify the Caspian Sea as an inland lake, which would allow joint control of the oil reserves by all countries on the coast. Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and Turkmenistan, on the other hand, wanted to classify the body of water as a sea which would subsequently be divided into individual sectors for each country (7-8). In the end, the classification dispute was resolved in favor of Azerbaijan, mostly due to the support of the United States for sectoral division given in 1996. Prior to this time, the United States took a neutral stance on the issue. After further negotiations, the Caspian Sea was divided into unequal national sectors (9-10).
Over the following years the results of these negotiations became apparent. When speaking about the significance of Azerbaijan’s oil and gas industry in 2009, Ipek claimed that the “proven and potential reserves in the Azerbaijani sector of the Caspian Sea are expected to diversify, secure, and stabilize world energy supplies” (1). This ties in with Azerbaijan’s impressive economic growth since 1996, as evidenced by the progression of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Data from the...

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