Earlier that day, Presidential Aide Igor Levitin presented state decorations to the silver and bronze medallists of the Tokyo Olympics.
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Greetings, friends,
I am sincerely happy to congratulate you and all your teammates, coaches and mentors.
Russian athletes performed fittingly at the Tokyo Olympics. I understand how hard it was – everyone, the whole country understands how hard it was, at times beyond limits. It is an overwhelming physical and emotional stress, both during the preparations and at the Olympic competitions, compounded by the tough requirements and forced though necessary epidemic-related restrictions, which added to the challenges.
I cannot but recall the well-known politicised decisions that were imposed on our country and our team and which, regrettably, do not have much to do with sport. However, you endured everything, friends, you went through all these ordeals fighting for Russia’s sports honour. As I said, you fought with dignity and gave your fans and all of us the joy of witnessing your victories, and the unmatched unifying pride for our Fatherland.
Those present in this hall today made the ultimate contribution to this success. Gold champions in every sense, you are Russia’s biggest heroes and pride, with no exaggeration. The Olympics in Tokyo convincingly reaffirmed our unconditional global leadership and at the same time the continuity of the best national traditions of raising champions founded on the ideals and values of the Olympic movement and the commitment to mutual understanding and cooperation in the interests of the whole Olympic family.
One of its most experienced and wise representatives, Vitaly Smirnov, is here with us today. An outstanding sports manager and untiring enthusiast, this year he is celebrating the 50th anniversary of his work at the International Olympic Committee. Decades of fruitful innovative efforts earned him tremendous respect both in our country and abroad – no exaggeration here – and he is doing a great deal for Russian sport as he firmly upholds its interests.
Mr Smirnov has become the full cavalier of the Order For Services to the Fatherland. Congratulations. I ask all those present here to honour you.
The achievements of the Russian team at the Olympics, your contribution to the progress of Russian sport and your example for young people – you are actually all young people, too, yet you are setting an example for your peers and younger generation – is vitally important for the country’s development and obviously deserves appreciation from the state, the country’s high awards.
The performances by our outstanding synchronised swimmers, traditionally striking with their ultimate precision, prowess and creativity, are among the most significant results of the Games. Russia is an absolute leader in this sport as well as in wrestling, where our athletes invariably collect plenty of gold medals for our national team.
Russian fencers brought joy to their fans again – they had both team and personal victories in Tokyo.
There were also long-awaited and exciting victories in rifle and pistol shooting, swimming, Taekwondo, tennis, and boxing, and I should say these victories were just brilliant.
I should also note the gold in track and field, where our national team has been going through difficult times these past few years. We believe it will be over soon and the Russian athletes will become leaders again and, as I have already said, they will be back triumphantly just as both men’s and women’s national artistic gymnastics teams were.
As to Russia’s leadership in rhythmic gymnastics, for us it has remained. We are absolutely sure that we had it, have it and will have it – I hope and I am sure – in the future.
At the Tokyo Olympics we saw what a large potential the Russian national team has. I would like to wish you every success. I am confident that such dedication and commitment to the result will remain and will be realised in future.
I congratulate you again on your outstanding victories and well-deserved awards. I wish you success, good health, wellbeing and all the very best.
Thank you very much.
Vladimir Putin: Friends,
Looking out into the hall, I see such mighty, nice-looking, graceful, young and successful people. Your looks would be enough, but you are also smart and advanced in all respects.
I was very pleased to listen to what you said about your country and homeland and how you even associated your awards with our distinguished figure Alexander Nevsky. All of this speaks to the fact that you are well-adjusted, quite serious, mature and forward-thinking people, in the broad sense of the word.
When I was speaking in the beginning I chose a very serious tone: I said you are the pride of Russia. I want to confirm this once again: you are exactly that.
I sincerely hope that your new lofty status and your successes will be solidified later in life. I am sure that this will indeed be the case. And no matter how your life turns out, either with or without sport, an Olympic medal is a “golden asset” that few people can attain.
Of course, all of us are trying to make our contribution: the state, to the best of its ability, coaches, doctors, massage therapists and so on, but it is those who race ahead that achieve success, and you are in the lead.
Thank you very much. I wish you success!