Baku 2015
Six thousand athletes will descend on Baku for the European GamesGetty

The inaugural European Games gets underway today (12 June) in the continent's very own 'Olympics'.

Where to watch live

The opening ceremony of the Games takes place at the 63,000-capacity Olympic Stadium in Baku, Azerbaijan. Things get underway at 5.00pm (BST) and will be available live on BT Sport 1 HD. A live stream of the event will also be available through Baku 2015's YouTube channel here.

Overview

Six thousand athletes competing in 20 sports will take part in Baku and it all gets started today. Europe is somewhat late to the party as this event joins the table next to the Asian, Pan-American, All Africa and Pacific Games but the rewards for the athletes competing ensure they can quickly catch up with the rest of the world.

It will act as a precursor of sorts for the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympic Games. The European Games will pave the way for direct qualification for 12 sports including shooting and table tennis, while those participating in other disciplines, taekwondo and archery to name a few, can pick up valuable qualification points.

There is a lack of star value at the games with the big names of swimming and athletics opting out of the Games – both sports already have their own European Championships. Great Britain have decided to send a team of young hopefuls for the swimming events but some of the stars of Team GB in 2012 will return elsewhere.

Nicola Adams, the first woman in history to win Olympic gold in boxing, will carry the British flag during the opening ceremony with a 19-year-old boxer by the name of Muhammad Ali in tow. Taekwondo champion Jade Jones and Olympic canoe sprint champion Ed McKeever will also be there.

As for the opening ceremony itself, a cast of over 2,000 volunteers will provide a show celebrating the traditions and history of Azerbaijani culture in front of a sold-out stadium before the 50 nations are led out by their respective flag-bearers.

While controversy has engulfed the build-up to these games, Azerbaijan will be hoping this event will bolster their chances of securing the Olympic Games later down the line, having failed in their attempts to get Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020.