First teams arrive as Baku prepares to kick into action

7 May 2017

Athletes have started to arrive in Azerbaijan ahead of the fourth Islamic Solidarity Games, with the football and handball tournaments to start early next week.

At the athletes' village, situated between the Baku Olympic Stadium and the National Gymnastics Arena, flags of Morocco, Cameroon, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and Palestine are hanging from the windows and show that the Games are ready to spark into life.

The first delegations from 18 countries are busy settling in at the complex that can house all 3,500 athletes from the 57 nations taking part, and some teams are even conducting training sessions in the park.

Security is tight at the entrance to the village, which was originally built for the inaugural European Games two years ago, and the same can be expected at all 16 venues to be used for the 20 different sports.

Entertainment has also been organised to help ease the pressure of competing thousands of miles from home.

A large stage has been constructed for live music and athletes can also use a Formula One simulator that has had the entire Baku city circuit installed, ahead of the second Grand Prix in the Azerbaijani capital on June 25.

"Everyone is very friendly, the housing is good. For us coming from Africa we're not disorientated even with the food," said Cameroon's national football team press officer Philippe Boney at the village on Saturday.

"We're here to win at least a medal and with everyone arriving the pressure and adrenalin here are building."

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