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Azerbaijani Athletes Head to Olympics

The first group of 32 Azerbaijani athletes has left for the London 2012 Olympics today. Members of an official government delegation, head coaches and doctors are accompanying the teams.

A second group will leave for London on August 4, according to Samaya Mammadova, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Youth and Sports.

The Olympic Games officially start on July 27. An Azerbaijani welcoming event will be held in London on July 28 and will feature performances by Azerbaijani opera, jazz and mugham singers.

Judo champion Elnur Mammadli, who won the gold medal in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, will carry the flag of the Azerbaijani team at the opening ceremony of the Games.

Azerbaijan's Olympic teams include 53 athletes competing in 16 different sports. Forty-one of the athletes will participate in the Olympic Games for the first time. Six doctors and 29 coaches are part of the Azerbaijani teams.

The athletes will compete for the first time since the country's independence in five types of sports that are new to Azerbaijan's teams: canoeing, rowing, cycling, gymnastics and fencing.

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