President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, friends,
The XXII Winter Olympics and XI Winter Paralympics in Sochi are part of history now. They are part of a very positive history that has united and inspired many, many people and has united and inspired all of us.
It makes me happy to know that it was our country, Russia, that gave the entire world this celebration of sport and human togetherness and goodwill. This was a gift to the world and a gift to ourselves too. Tens of thousands of people who spent almost 7 years preparing for the Olympics and Paralympics made a huge contribution to this work.
Today, we honour those whose effort, energy and talent helped to create our common dream and made the Olympic project so memorable and truly unforgettable.
We are presenting Russia’s state decorations to those who built the Olympic infrastructure and organised the Games, and to the heads of sports federations and media representatives.
Friends, I want to thank all of you sincerely for your big contribution to promoting the Olympic movement’s values and ideals.
Already back in ancient Greece, the Olympics carried a message of unity and harmony in society, and the Games still have this unique role today. We saw this in full measure in Sochi, where a wonderful and quite simply unique atmosphere prevailed, an atmosphere of mutual understanding, openness, and fair competition that was a real beauty to watch.
Of course, we felt too the genuine support from our public. In actual fact, we felt this support and understanding right from the very start, from our very first steps towards these Games, when we only just began building a modern global sports centre.
Working on this project gave us not just a lot of experience in planning and building big sports facilities. We also made our mark in holding major international forums and showed the world that Russia is a country with endless creative possibilities. We proposed our own ideas and original solutions.
I am sure that the Olympic legacy will be put to good use and will serve people for a long time yet, including our athletes, as a local training base for winter sports.
Among those receiving decorations today are coaches who have nurtured champions and specialists who have helped the Olympic and Paralympic athletes. I think that you will have plenty of opportunities yet to see all the obvious advantages of having our athletes able to train here at home. This is all the more so that we have the necessary conditions now, sports facilities built to meet the latest safety, equipment and barrier-free environment requirements.
These conditions were top priorities for us. It was essential that everyone taking part in the Sochi Games, athletes and spectators, should have a comfortable and convenient environment, and that organisation of the competitions, the various services’ work, the volunteers and the media coverage should all be of the highest standard. It was essential that we did everything required to ensure that our athletes had the best preparation.
As you know, the results were not long in coming. Russia came out on top in the overall team medal tallies. Our specialists’ tremendous, positive effort was not in vain, and nor was the huge support from our public. The millions of television viewers could see this for themselves. I want to thank everyone who helped to organise this side of the work.
I must mention the Russian Paralympic athletes’ truly outstanding performance. The swift and resolute way they threw themselves into the competition, their passion, hard work, strong will, and the incredible way they put themselves so far ahead of their rivals throughout the whole event were truly inspiring. The example they set through their courage and ability deserves our respect.
Today, we are honouring those who did much to develop the Paralympic movement and its great humanist and creative potential, and who have played an active and constructive part in supporting sport for people with disabilities in our country.
Once again, let me thank all of you for your effort to make the Olympic and Paralympic projects reality. I thank you and wish you all the very best.
Thank you very much.
Vladimir Putin: Friends,
Once again, I congratulate you from all my heart on receiving these state decorations.
As we have already said and are all saying now, we have come a very long way together over these last 7 years. It was not just a long journey but also a huge constructive labour.
This small hall cannot of course hold everyone who worked on this project. Indeed, the entire Kremlin would not be able to hold everyone who took part in this effort, because the number comes to hundreds of thousands of people.
But I want to pass on my words of thanks to all of them too, taking opportunity of the fact that our national media are broadcasting this ceremony today. I bow low before you, the workers, engineers, the volunteers once again, and absolutely everyone who took part in organising the 2014 Olympics and Paralympics in Russia. You have given our country and the entire world a marvellous celebration. I bow low before you.