The upcoming 2nd European Games will become a landmark social and political event in the history of sovereign Belarus, President Aleksandr Lukashenko said at a session of the Executive Committee of the National Olympic Committee (NOC) on 15 April.
The Executive Committee’s session was particularly focused on the preparedness of the country and its athletes for the large-scale sports event.
“We will be at the centre of attention of the global community during these days. The goal is not only to host the Games at the highest level. We must show once again that our country has created comfortable and, what is also important, safe conditions for the life and self-fulfillment of a human being,” the President emphasised.
Aleksandr Lukashenko reminded those present that an Organising Committee, led by the Prime Minister, was set up in preparation for the European Games, and that the necessary funds for the Games are being allocated.
“Sports facilities, telecom networks, road infrastructure, passenger transport, a students' village - everything should meet the highest standards,” he said.
President Lukashenko emphasised that he is waiting for concrete proposals regarding all unfinished construction projects, the purchase of gear and equipment, as well as the efforts to attract additional people and funds.
“We set up a task to monitor expenses, ensure the rational use of all purchased equipment, the car park, and constructed facilities after the Games have finished. How are these requirements being fulfilled?” the Belarusian leader said.
Aleksandr Lukashenko also highlighted how important it is for the Belarusian athletes to perform well at the 2nd European Games.
“What sport results are we aiming for? We did not make public announcements about medal goal for the Games, however, the goal is clear - no fewer medals than in Baku,” the President said.
He stressed that the athletes will have to compete at home, in their home arenas and in front of home spectators.
“The support of all the Belarusian people will be guaranteed. Therefore, we have no right to perform badly at these Games. I would like for this statement to be delivered to the athletes and coaches. Prepare them to fight, make them aim for victory,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.
The President noted that Belarusian athletes are capable of winning and showing top results on the world stage, as demonstrated by the recent European Weightlifting Championships. He added that the medals are not only a sporting achievement, but also signify honour and glory for the Motherland:
“Today sport is not just some kind of entertainment. It is a battle, or so to say, a war, just not a hot war. It is the highest ideology, which elevates the spirit of the people in any country.”
In 2015, Belarusian athletes won 43 medals, including 10 gold, 11 silver and 22 bronze at the 1st European Games, which were held in Baku in June 2015. Belarus ranked seventh in the unofficial overall medals table.
The costs of hosting the European Games remain within previously approved limits, according to Sergei Rumas, Prime Minister of Belarus and Chairman of the Minsk European Games Organising Committee (MEGOC). There are no plans to increase spending.
“We are within the limits of the originally approved budgets. Moreover, we feel that by attracting sponsors from within the country, we will exceed our income plans,” Sergei Rumas said.
According to the Prime Minister, new sponsors have emerged among the private sector in Belarus, and they are interested in advertising their products at the European Games. He added that the European Olympic Committees (EOC) did not manage to attract any foreign sponsors to the multi-sport event.
“But we compensate for this with the external sponsors, that are, in part, brought in by the Games management. If EOC entrusted us with this work two years ago, then, of course, we could attract foreign sponsors to such a large-scale sporting event,” Sergei Rumas said.
He added that “there are no problems in preparing for the Games” and that all venues will be fully ready by May 15. Now 95% of the equipment is already installed, and the rest of the installations are on schedule.
The venues have already hosted a number of test competitions, during which all the services involved were monitored. The test competitions did not reveal serious problems and got positive reviews from foreign experts.
At the moment, the construction of temporary infrastructure is being completed, and the last of the equipment necessary is being purchased.
The information technology platform, which includes accreditation, personnel management, transportation, logistics, medical and other services, is also in preparation phase.
“It is almost complete,” said Sergei Rumas. “Separate features of this system have already passed tests. All services will be tested in May during the athletics test event.”
Accommodation facilities are also preparing to receive the participants and guests of the Games. The complex “Student Village” will house around 6,000 athletes and coaches. Students who previously lived in the complex have been given different accommodations for Games time. Hotels for sports delegations, foreign officials and other guests have also been booked, Sergei Rumas said.
In addition, about 7,000 places will be available for guests and tourists in the capital - excluding rented apartments - with 18,000 more potential sports available in the Minsk region.
BelTA reports and photos