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The flame of the European Games arrived in SabirabadonWednesday evening, ten days into its epic journey across Azerbaijan. Sabirabad, whichtakes its name from MirzaAlakbarSabir (1862-1911), a renowned philosopher, teacher and poet, is situated at the confluence of the Kura and Arasrivers, two ofthe most important in Azerbaijan.
Upon arrival in Sabirabad, the flame convoy visited the city’s tomato greenhouses, the largest in the country,whichrepresenta major part of the region’s agricultural economy.
As at previous locations, the flame was carried in a torch relay covering 3.32km alongHeydar Aliyev Avenue.Azad Asgarov, former USSR youth Greco-Roman wrestling champion was the first of twelve torchbearers. Seymur Adishov, Ramiz Mammadov, Miraflan Agayev, Ilkin Hasani, Ilham Azimov, Alijabbar Nuriyev, Nadir Guliyev, Rufet Mehdiyev, Ibrahim Ibrahimov, Seyfulla Mehdiyev also carried the flame. The final torchbearer was Amid Babayev, who brought the torch to the stage in Heydar Aliyev Park for the official lighting ceremony.
Amid cheers and celebration,the flame was then transferred to a special commemorative lamp that will remain on display in the park until the cauldron is extinguished to coincide withthe Closing Ceremony of the European Games on 28 June.
As one of the fifteen locations of the Journey of the Flame hosting a Festival of Fire – afree evening event gatheringthousands of people to enjoy the festivities and soak up the atmosphere – localresidents were treated to a spectacular fire show specially created for the Journey of the Flame, along with performances and entertainment from local artists.
MrAgayev reflected on his day, saying: “Hosting the European Games helps to raise the profile of Azerbaijan and showcase not only Baku, our capital city, but all of the regions as well. Other European cities have great sporting traditions and have already hosted many Olympic Games but Azerbaijan, a new state barely two decades old, was awarded the honour of hosting the first ever European Games.
“I am proud to be part of the torch relay, and it created a beautiful memory for me. As a coach, it will be a great opportunity for me to share my excitement of this great event, to jointhe passion of the Gamesand build support for our local athletes.”
The flame will continue to Imishli tomorrow (7 May), for a smaller welcome ceremony, and will then head on to Horadiz town, Fizuli for another Festival of Fire the same day.