President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, colleagues,
Today we will thoroughly look at preparations for the Summer University Games in Kazan, during a meeting of the Council for the Development of Physical Culture and Sport.
I just took a look at what is happening. I have a very pleasant feeling; I think that Kazan is gradually becoming the sports capital of Russia. Grandiose construction is proceeding apace, in any case everything is proceeding according to plans, and I must say that this is impressive. But we must not let up, we are to look closely at what has been done and what remains to be done.
As I just said, we inspected a number of facilities. Our impression was favourable. Of 29 sports facilities which are being built specifically for the Games, 27 are already operational. Moreover, some of them have unique characteristics, and in the future will be able to host competitions at the very highest international levels.
Of course, first and foremost I am talking about the Kazan Arena soccer stadium. It is being built in accordance with International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) requirements for five star category stadiums. At some stage we even had the idea to modify the original plans, because when this stadium, this arena, was first planned we were not counting on hosting the World Cup. But since that is the case, we made adjustments in accordance with FIFA requirements and now the stadium is just about ready. Naturally, it will be ready for the 2013 University Games and the 2018 FIFA World Cup. I remember how in the summer of 2010, it seems just a short time ago, we laid the foundation stone and started building. Now it is almost ready, there are only a few unfinished things.
After the competitions the Athletes Village of the University Games will play a special role. We had originally planned this complex in the light of the needs of the Kazan (Volga Region) Federal University and Volga Region State Academy of Physical Culture, Sport and Tourism. Naturally, this student campus will be the largest in Russia.
Given that a Federal Training Centre for Summer Sports Teams will also be located here, Kazan is gaining a rich sports and educational cluster. This is where Russian and international sports competitions will regularly be conducted, and a new generation of national athletes will be trained.
In addition, the Volunteer Training Centre that trains those coordinating volunteer programmes and, of course, the volunteers themselves, is already at work here. The Centre will train 20,000 people for the University Games. Moreover, in the future many of them will be involved in the Sochi Olympics and other major international sports competitions.
The cluster will act as a good forum for sporting figures – from coaches to managers – to practice. An international school for sports journalists will also be established here.
In general the University Games enabled us to upgrade the sports facilities in Kazan’s universities and to significantly raise the level of university sports. Of course, they also served to arouse interest in sport among our young people. Over the past three years, the number of Russian students who regularly engage in sports has increased from 34.5 to 54 percent.
The regions of the Russian Federation have begun to be more active in this respect. Of course this development must be sustained. The University Games are a celebration for the entire country. It is important that as many students and representatives from the regions as possible be able to watch the competition and cheer for our team. I would ask you to address this issue very carefully indeed and help resolve all organisational problems.
Russia has a long tradition of university sports. And every year our children’s victories in major international competitions make us happy and further our country’s athletic glory. Today there are 1,397 candidates for the national team that will participate in the University Games in Kazan. Under the quotas the national team can be made up of a maximum of 663 athletes who will take part in 27 sports.
As we see it, there are many options for the choice, and it must be a very careful one. We need people who do not simply do well in training, but rather who know how to win. We need real fighters.
I would recall that our team took second place at the 2011 Summer University Games in China, and first place in the Winter Games in Turkey. That is, we set a very high bar for ourselves and naturally we have to keep it at this level.
I would ask the Russian Student Sports Union and Sports Federations to approach the issue of selecting athletes in an extremely responsible manner. The Sports Ministry must coordinate this work. We must approve our delegation’s composition by May 20. Of course, today we will talk about organisational issues related to welcoming and accommodating athletes and visitors, including logistics, security, and information management.
I took a look at the new centre. I hope that all the participants of today’s meeting had the opportunity to have a look at the information centre. It sets a very good example to follow for the future.
I would like to draw your attention to the fact that the Universiade in Kazan is the first of a series of world-class sporting events that will be held in the Russian Federation in the coming years. And to a large extent the way we organise this work will be the measure by which our potential and responsibility are judged.
Incidentally, we have decided to organise a visa-free entry regime for athletes participating in the Universiade and the Olympic Games in Sochi. Before 2018 about 20 major international competitions and world championships will take place in Russia. And it is only right to introduce visa-free entry for all athletes taking part in these competitions.
The World Student Games are no less important than the Olympic Games or World Championships. They are the world’s main student sports forum. They are a competition between those who, in the near future, will be the backbone of our national team. Therefore hosting such a forum is a great honour for any country. It is more than simple recognition of the host country’s credibility in the international community. The main point is that these events bring positive long-term social and economic benefits, set new standards of living, popularise physical culture and sports, act as an impetus for regions’ comprehensive development, and increase their attractiveness for those wanting to live and work there. All this rich material and immaterial legacy will remain with us for many years to come. Various countries actively compete for the right to host the Universiade, and if they are successful make them a nation-wide project.
In this sense, Russia is no exception. Moreover, we consider student sports one of the most important areas of social policy, whose aim is the sustained spiritual and physical development of young people through a combination of education, sports and culture. And of course we must do everything to realise our plans for university sports in the near future and beyond.
Let’s get to work.