By Tom Hayward
BAKU (Reuters) - Seven potential candidates have emerged to replace the Netherlands as hosts of the 2019 European Games, president of the European Olympic Committees Patrick Hickey said on Saturday.
Netherlands withdrew as hosts for the second edition just days before the extravagant opening ceremony of the inaugural Games in Baku, with the Dutch government refusing to support an event it believed would be too big a "burden" on resources.
Their withdrawal strengthened claims that the continental event had little future in an already busy calendar but organisers of the Baku games said it had already exceeded all expectations and boosted interest for potential replacement hosts for the second edition.
"We have gone back to the five candidates we dealt with (originally), but with the success of these Games two new candidates have come in addition so we have riches now from which to choose," Hickey told reporters at the Baku Shooting Centre.
"We had six in the beginning, but the Netherlands fell by the wayside so that left five. We have now two additional candidates. But there will be no decision for a while.
"Two of the original five said 2023, so we brought them back to 2019, but others have asked to reopen talks."
Reports suggested Turkey are among the front-runners for 2019 edition and Hickey was coy on their chances but said they were "well capable" of hosting a multi-sport continental games.
"I don't have any concrete evidence on that, but Turkey is a country well capable of hosting a great Games," he added.
"Overall we are very happy (with the competition in Baku). We knew we hadn't got the best in athletics and swimming, but in the other sports we have top of the range European champions and Olympic champions."
(Reporting by Tom Hayward; editing by Martyn Herman)