Olympics-European Games to be major 2028 Olympic qualifying event

FILE PHOTO: Paris 2024 Olympics - Olympic Flame Lighting Ceremony - Ancient Olympia, Greece - April 16, 2024 President of the Hellenic Olympic Committee and Member of the nInternational Olympic Committee, Spyros Capralos gives a speech during the flame lighting ceremony for the Paris 2024 Olympics REUTERS/Louisa Gouliamaki

BERLIN (Reuters) - The 2027 European Games in Istanbul will serve as a major qualifying event for the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics, the head of the European Olympic Committees (EOC) said on Thursday.

The Turkish city will host the fourth edition of the continental multi-sports event after Poland staged the 2023 event with 29 sports. The dates for the 2027 Games have not yet been fixed but they will take place around June.

"I think Istanbul gives us an additional, new opportunity for innovation," EOC President Spyros Capralos said in an online press conference.

"The European Games are happening one year before the Olympic Games in Los Angeles. They will serve as a qualification for Olympic sports."

Capralos said more federations, including gymnastics, were looking to send top athletes to the European Games.

The event faces stiff competition from the European Championships, another multi-sport event featuring top athletes from sports including athletics, gymnastics, swimming and rowing.

The addition of new sports to the 2027 European Games along with the offer of Olympic qualifying spots fits with the International Olympic Committee's strategy of boosting the visibility of qualifying events for the Games.

For the 2024 Paris Olympics, the IOC is staging a two-stop qualifying series in May and June for several sports with more than 150 Olympic spots up for grabs. That is a move intended to add value to the Olympic Games and create new commercial opportunities for stakeholders.

The IOC said this week it was planning to expand this project for future Olympics.

"In our Games in Istanbul we expect to have some of the bigger sports that are taking part in the Olympic qualification system," Capralos, who is also an IOC member, said.

"We are talking to different federations. So that we have the best athletes participating."

"There are some sports that were not in Poland that want to be included. European gymnastics... they are very much interested and keen to enter."

(Reporting by Karolos Grohmann, editing by Ed Osmond)

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