The European Games are not related to the European Sports Championships, an event organised by individual European sports federations, bringing together the individual European championships of athletics, swimming, cycling, rowing and triathlon under a single 'brand' on a four-yearly cycle beginning in 2018.
In June 2015 it was reported that the Netherlands had withdrawn as hosts of the 2019 European Games, having been selected in May 2015. It was reported that "the plan failed to earn enough support from The Netherlands' Sports Minister Edith Schippers, the Provinces and Municipalities".
The Games have been criticised for being an unnecessary addition to the sporting calendar and for the lack of high quality in totem events such as athletics and swimming; moreover, the first edition of the Games has received significant criticism for being hosted by a despotic regime. Nick Cohen, a columnist for The Guardian newspaper in the United Kingdom argued that Patrick Hickey, EOC President set up the European Games despite there being "no need for them." Cohen argued that -
"Olympic sports already have their European championships. But – and you will only understand the seedy imperative that drives a disgraceful tournament when you grasp this – the European Olympic committees do not control the rival competitions."
According to Cohen, Hickey had initially tried to get Belarus to host the event, giving Alexander Lukashenko an award for his 'Outstanding Contribution to the Olympic Movement'. However, Belarus was too poor to afford the games. Instead Hickey turned to Azerbaijan which wanted to "win international prestige."
The Games also received heavy criticism from organisations such as Sport for Rights calling for athletes to speak out against human rights violations in Azerbaijan. Many regime opponents were jailed in the run-up to the Games.