President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Friends, good afternoon.
I am happy to see you all, if only on the screen.
Seeing off the Russian Olympic team is a good and longstanding tradition, and it is gratifying that, despite the circumstances we are all aware of and the remote formats we have to use, this tradition has not been interrupted.
I am well aware how important it is to wish someone good luck before a long journey and serious trials, and for them to hear our wishes as well. It is important for every person, for every one of us. The challenges that you are going to face are more than serious: they are a test of character and willpower, a fight against the strongest athletes on the planet.
Very soon, you will be representing our country at the Winter Olympics in Beijing, so, first of all, I wish you to stay in good health, and in good, fighting spirit. My warmest congratulations to all of you on being included in the national team.
Also, as you probably know, we are celebrating Tatyana’s Day and the Day of Russian Students today, so I wish all the best to head coach Tatyana Borodulina and sleigh rider Tatyana Ivanova on their Saint’s Day. And to student athletes, of course – there are a lot of them on our team.
Each of you – all those who have joined the Olympic team – must be nervous, of course, thinking about the upcoming competitions – a very important and highly demanding event. We know that you have been aspiring for this for years, going through hard exhausting training, defeats and victories, finally earning the right to show off your skills and your talent at the most important competitions for any athlete. You have proved by deed that you deserve to continue the great traditions of Russian sports.
The pandemic situation has greatly changed our usual way of life, of course. But you have managed to overcome these difficulties and temper your character even more, to strengthen your will to win and confidently go through all the stages of qualifications for the Olympics. Many have risen to the top of global rankings.
Russian athletes will compete in each of the 13 sports in Beijing, including a number of new Olympic sports.
These achievements are largely due to the coaches, specialists who tirelessly work with the teams, to the help of our patrons and members of the Russian Olympians Foundation, and, of course, to the efforts of the Russian regions to create the necessary conditions to ensure high quality training of local athletes.
It is an obvious fact that the level of local support for sports directly affects the level of fitness and a healthy lifestyle in the region, and makes it possible to find and support gifted children and train new generations of elite sports representatives.
Major international competitions are an excellent driver for promoting sports in society. I believe that their main objective is to involve as many people as possible in sports and strengthen friendship between nations.
Our Chinese friends, the organisers of the upcoming Games, share this approach. Together we stand against the politisation of sports and demonstrative boycotts; we support the traditional Olympic values, primarily, equal rights and justice.
During the opening of the Games, I will meet with President of the People’s Republic of China Xi Jinping. We will outline new plans for future interaction, including with regard to our agreements on holding the years of Russian-Chinese cooperation in physical fitness and sports.
There is every reason to believe that the Games in Beijing will be held at a very high level and will be part of the golden records of the world Olympic family.
Just like Russia, China has vast and highly useful experience of organising large-scale international events, and I am sure that our friends will create all the necessary conditions, including for the competition itself, issues related to the participants’ stay in China and, of course, measures to safeguard the athletes’ and spectators’ health.
In turn, I ask you and all your teammates to strictly comply with the requirements of the Organising Committee and follow all medical advice. The Russian Government, the Federal Medical-Biological Agency and the Olympic Committee will create the necessary conditions for that.
I also want to note that over the past few years, China has been paying a great deal of attention to the development of winter sports. Therefore, in Beijing you will meet not only your traditional rivals from Europe and North America, but also promising Chinese athletes.
Competition will definitely make the battle for the Olympic gold even more spectacular, keen and intense. But, as we know, in Russia, we do not fear difficulties, for they make us even stronger, more united and confident. I am sure that you will show all these qualities in Beijing.
Here, in Russia, we will be rooting for you. We will be proud of your achievements and hope that you will surpass yourselves at the Games and show a top-notch performance.
I wish you luck, good health and a great performance at the Beijing Winter Olympics. Good luck!