The forum, established by the President’s order of July 27, 2009, is the largest platform for discussion of the key issues and development prospects of physical fitness and sports in the country.
In 2023, the forum is being held on October 19–22 in Perm. The event features business, sports, cultural and exhibition segments and brings together some 5,000 people.
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President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, colleagues, ladies and gentlemen, friends.
I am happy to greet the guests and participants in the 11th Russia – Country of Sports International Sports Forum.
This year, it is held here in Perm, as part of the events to mark the 300th anniversary of this wonderful city, which is connected to many legendary historical events in Russia, and the exploration of the Urals and Siberia.
I hope that seeing this city and meeting its hospitable residents will bring you good and warm impressions and that the work of the forum will be successful and constructive, facilitating the development of sports and helping promote its great humanitarian mission – to strengthen people’s friendship, and raise new generations of harmonious, responsible and strong people.
It is especially important now when our big, multiethnic sports family is undergoing a test for unity, loyalty to the true values of sports, the Olympic principles of solidarity, equality and an honest sports competition. For Russia, these values have always been unwavering, because our country stood at the origins of the contemporary Olympic movement.
We are proud that Russian teacher and public figure Alexei Butovsky, a comrade-in-arms of Pierre de Coubertin and co-founder of the International Olympic Committee, was among the initiators of its revival. He devoted his life to establishing the main ideas of Olympism: playing sports is, of course, a human right, and the Olympic Games are the pinnacle of true unity of all countries and nations on the planet.
Unfortunately, a lot has changed since the times of Coubertin and Butovsky, and something has been completely lost. Thus, thanks to some leaders in today’s International Olympic Committee, we have found out that an invitation to the Games is not an unconditional right of the best athletes, but a kind of privilege and can be earned not by sports results, but by some kind of political gestures that have nothing to do with sports, and that the Games can be used as a tool of political pressure against people who have nothing to do with politics, and as a tool of gross and, in fact, racist and ethnic discrimination. We have also found out or heard that the Olympic Charter is supposedly outdated and no longer has a universal character. Some sports officials have simply arrogated to themselves the right to determine who is covered by this Olympic Charter and who is not.
Such approaches contradict the very nature of sport, but we are certain that there are values that must not be betrayed, cancelled, substituted or sold. One of these values is surely sport with its uniting power. This is actually the meaning of international sports movements.
We have always backed our position with actions and will continue to do so. Sport is an unconditional state priority for us, and an essential component of national development goals.
We will continue the good, glorious traditions of domestic sports education; as well as working in elite sports. Via the Government and the Russian Olympic Committee, and with the participation of our patrons we support those who, due to restrictions on the rights and freedoms of athletes, are forced to miss some international competitions.
We will pay special attention to amateur sports. Our objective is to involve 70 percent of Russian citizens in systematic sports activities by 2030, that is, to make sports a part of everyday life for 93 million people of all ages and health groups. We are creating the necessary conditions for that by uniting the capacities of education, medicine and culture, and we will ensure that sports facilities are as widely available as possible.
Russia currently has 350,000 sports facilities, or 353,000, to be exact. That is still not enough for such a big country, given its wide variety of regions and areas and diverse climate zones.
I want to add that we have plans for a multifold increase in the number of sports competitions of various levels for enthusiasts, sports fans and professionals, both nationwide and international, with a big prize fund. We have everything we need for the organisation of multi-tier, commercially attractive and open tournaments with the participation of foreign athletes, clubs and teams.
Besides our experience of successfully holding major sports events, we have contemporary sports venues and stadiums equipped in accordance with global standards. We also have our own system of settling sports disputes, sports arbitration. It is available to Russian athletes, federations and leagues, but can and should be used more widely, including by foreign organisations and athletes.
I said this more than once, and I want to reiterate that Russia is ready and will cooperate with everyone who shares the traditional values and principles of sports, and who appreciates these values.
I want to use this opportunity to thank our Chinese friends and President of China Xi Jinping for the support and success of the Years of Sports Cooperation held by our countries. As you know, I have just come back from China, and we discussed this issue and will develop this area of cooperation. (Applause).
We can also see great potential in the development of sports cooperation within the CIS, the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, and BRICS. The BRICS Games are already included in our schedule: they will take place in Kazan in June 2024.
In September, Moscow and Yekaterinburg will host the global Friendship Games. Their programme includes both well-known sports and those that are now gaining popularity, such as breakdancing, skateboarding, and sports programming.
Russia understands how important it is to preserve the traditions of sports, but at the same time, it is, of course, open to everything that is better, new, advanced, to what is popular among young people, including, of course, in sports. This is exactly what I am talking about now. Our idea to hold competitions that combine classical sports and esports proves that.
We named this innovative format, which is unprecedented for sports but is in tune with the new digital era, “Games of the Future,” and they will start in Kazan very soon: on February 23, 2024. We invite athletes and young people from different countries to take an active part in them, show themselves, and discover their sporting and creative talent.
Of course, the Russia – Country of Sports forum will also take place next year. By tradition, it always takes place in different cities of our vast country. This time it will be held in the capital of the Republic of Bashkortostan, Ufa. (Applause.)
In 2024, Bashkortostan marks its 450th anniversary. The forum guests will take part in the celebrations and learn more about the culture, history, and heritage of another original, very interesting and diverse region of Russia.
I would like to sincerely wish all of you success in developing sports and promoting its true values; and Russia will always be open to this partnership and cooperation.
Thank you for attention. All the best.