President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, my friends.
I am happy to see you. We all know very well the price of victory in modern high performance sports and how much hard work it takes – and you know it better than anyone does.
But it becomes twice as difficult when sports get mixed with extraneous events, phenomena, circumstances, politics or other things that have nothing to do with it. And it becomes three times harder when the public in a country – our country in this case – has very mixed and complex attitudes, sometimes completely opposite opinions on the matter. This creates a very tough environment for achieving results. Please forgive us for not being able to protect you from this.
You and all sports fans must have no doubt that Russia has always supported and will support clean sports in every sense − clean from doping and clean from superficial circumstances unrelated to sports.
Of course, we feel very sorry for those of our athletes who will not be able to compete in the Olympic Games this year and will do everything to support them.
At the same time, while admitting our own failures, mistakes, lack of attention to the things relevant and important in modern sports, we really hope that our colleagues in international sport organisations will do everything to make sure these organisations do not become departments of certain countries’ government bodies, no matter how powerful and influential these countries seem at first glance. We really hope for this kind of attitude towards this matter, towards sports, and rely on their courage.
We realise that modern sport is linked with sponsorship, advertising and everything else that accompanies major international competitions. But if modern international sports and the Olympic movement lose the main element of sport, which unites peoples and countries, all of it will become pointless. In this case the appeal of the founder of the modern Olympic movement, Pierre de Coubertin “O Sport, You are Peace!” will lose its meaning.
We will do everything to prevent this from happening. We will work with international organisations and support, as I said, our athletes who did not make it to the Olympics.
Some things really seem strange to us in this context. As you know, many of them were allegedly banned from the Games for the totality of circumstances not related to doping. What are we fighting against then? Doping or something else? We would like to know what it is.
We hope to have a substantive conversation with our colleagues from international organisations to sort it out.
Naturally, I wish you good luck. I would also like to wish you not to think about anything that is not part of your preparations for the Olympics, not to worry about anything I just spoke about. I wish that you only concentrate on your sport competition, knowing that as usual you are watched by hundreds of thousands, by millions of fans that love you and hope for your victory.
I sincerely wish you victory and good luck. All the best to you.
Alyona Zavarzina: Friends and athletes,
Mr President, thank you for your words. You always find the words that stay in our hearts for a long time and support us in this complicated situation.
The current situation in sport, not only in Russia, but also internationally, is truly unprecedented. No one can recall anything like this. This is my third Olympic Games. It has always been a place of unity with other countries, a festive occasion filled exclusively with positive emotions. Now, I can say that I do not feel anything like that.
I believe that what happened to our colleagues who are unable to participate in these Games is a case of blatant injustice. It is not fair. I want to say that we will continue to fight and we will do our best to bring home the medals that we deserve. I want us to show what we are really worth.
Roman Repilov: I would like to thank you, Mr President, for supporting sport in such a complicated situation. I also want to tell all the athletes that we are going to the Olympics, where the entire world will watch us and wait for us to make a mistake, or fail at something. We must prove to all of them that we are Russians, we are strong, and we will not cave in just because our teammates were not allowed to participate. We must pull ourselves together, go there and win. We are the best in our respective sports – and we must prove that we are the most powerful sports force in the world.
Pavel Datsyuk: Mr President, as captain of the team, on behalf of all those present, I want to thank you for what you have done to promote Russian hockey, to support our Olympic team, and to promote sports in general across Russia.
To use sports terminology, you are the captain of our country, of Russia. We want to present you with a sweater that our national team signed, all the players, which says, ”Russia is in My Heart.“
Vladimir Putin: I would like to briefly comment on what you have just said.
First, you need to focus on the result and on winning. Everything that happens around sport and around our athletes should not distract you. You know how to do this. Many athletes are going, both experienced and novice ones. However, all of you are used to putting up fights and know how to do it. You need to compose yourself.
One more thing. Someone here mentioned that since some athletes were not allowed to participate, we will double our efforts to make up for the missing ones. There is an old song dating back to Soviet times: ”For myself and that other guy.“ Keep this in mind, and you will succeed.
All the best to you.