Baku 2015: European Games
View of the Baku Flame Fountain at sunset ahead of Baku 2015 the 1st European GamesGetty

Perhaps only in North Korea in recent times has the list of media organisations banned from a sporting event been so long, as Azerbaijan prepares to hold the first ever European Games in Baku.

So far at least five outlets have been denied accreditation to report on the games, organised by the European Olympic Committee, as human rights organisations such as Human Right Watch and Amnesty International also report that they have been barred from the country.

Rachel Denber, deputy director for Europe and Central Asia for Human Rights Watch, told IBTimes UK: "These games are going to be historic for all the wrong reasons and it is going to leave a terrible legacy. They have taken place at a time when Azerbaijan has record numbers of people in prisons for political reasons. It is leaving a dreadful legacy and it could have been avoided."

In the run-up to the opening ceremony for the Baku games, the Guardian said its chief sports correspondent Owen Gibson has been denied accreditation. The decision by Azerbaijan seems to be linked to a Guardian report in June when the writer highlighted the plight of government critics in the build-up to the games.

Regis Gente, a journalist with Radio France Internationale, based in the South Caucasus reporting on Azerbaijan since 2002, has also been denied access to the games as well as Emma Hughes, an activist with the London-based group Platform who was accredited to cover the Games as editor of Red Pepper magazine.

Two other journalists, who have requested anonymity, have also been denied access to the games.

The extent of censorship by Azerbaijan has led Human Rights Watch to say that the European Games will go ahead in "an atmosphere of government repression unprecedented in the post-Soviet era".

In March a senior researcher for Human Rights watch was denied entry into Azerbaijan. Amnesty International has been forced to cancel a planned visit to the country after being told by the government at the last minute that the mission should be postponed until after the European Games.

The organisation had planned to launch a briefing entitled "Azerbaijan: The Repression Games. The voices you won't hear at the first European Games".

The European Olympic Committee has spoken out against the censorship of journalists saying it was "completely against the spirit of sport". Its president, Patrick Hickey, is expected to meet with Azerbaijan officials over the issue.

The country's president, Ilham Aliyev, is also the president of his country's National Olympic Committee which has organised the multi-sport event for over 6,000 athletes from 50 European nations. It will run from June 12 to 28. The European Olympic Committees (EOC), an association of 50 National Olympic Committees, owns and regulates the games.

"The EOC has not only fallen down on its duty to uphold the Olympic Charter, it has squandered a rare opportunity to press the Azerbaijani government to change its ways," Denber said. "Most important, the EOC has failed the journalists and activists who are behind bars and were counting on the EOC to stand up for Olympic values."