– On behalf of the Russian Olympic Committee, I am glad to welcome all of you to the 3rd Athletes’ Forum in the beautiful city of Minsk.
For us, very close, productive communication between athletes, sports specialists and leaders of various levels has become an absolute norm in recent times. I would like to note that the goal pursued by our enemies – to split up and disunite our society – has failed miserably. Moreover, we can observe the opposite effect – we have greatly increased interaction between our countries and peoples.
More than 100 events have been held jointly by Russia and Belarus recently. Remember when the first competitions began a year ago, both Russian and Belarusian fans were surprised why Belarus was taking part in Russian championships. But now in the sports environment such questions are not raised in principle. Our joint participation in high national level competitions has become an absolute norm. And we must thank some international public sports organizations for bringing our peoples even closer.
Of course, the Olympic Movement is, first of all, about friendship, cooperation, respect, solidarity, and the dream of Pierre de Coubertin, which was to make this imperfect world better through sport. And everyone who is here in this room is making the world a better place by playing sports. I am sure that at the end of your active sports career, you will be able to realize the potential accumulated over the years of competitive practice and make a significant contribution to the development of not only physical culture and sport in our countries, but also, possibly, in other areas. As a person who has walked a fairly long sports path, I also had doubts when my career ended. I asked myself: “What should I do next?” But trust me, there is life after sport. You need to cherish it, you need to believe in it and make every effort so that it becomes bright and eventful. This is what I sincerely wish not only to you, but also to those generations that shall follow you, learn from you and improve sports and the Olympic movement of our countries.
I would like to express my profound gratitude to NOC Belarus for the invitation to come to the Forum. For us, for our Olympians, with whom we took part in the Olympic Games in various capacities, this is a great honour. We are always glad to see you in Russia, in our large friendly Belarusian-Russian family!