President Putin expressed his confidence that the championship will be an outstanding event for both hockey fans and athletes.
Mr Putin declared a minute of silence before the Russia-US game in memory of the victims of the terrorist attack in Boston.
The World Ice Hockey U18 Championships have been held since 1999. Russia is now hosting the competition for the third time after Yaroslavl in 2003 and Kazan in 2008. The Russian team has won the tournament three times: in 2001, 2004 and 2007. Earlier today, games were played between Germany and Sweden, Latvia and Finland, and Slovakia and Canada. The championship will end on April 28, 2013.
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President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Dear friends,
We are here today for the opening of the World Junior Hockey Championship. The Russian and US teams are opening the competition. We know that in the home country of our opponents today, these last few days have seen terrible tragedies that have taken human lives. First there was the terrorist attack in Boston and then the explosion at the factory in Texas. People were killed and injured in both cases.
The terrorist attack in Boston happened during an international sports event, which makes it an even more repulsive crime. On behalf of the Russian people I express my condolences and sympathy for the people of the United States and for the injured and the victims’ families. I ask you to now observe a minute of silence in memory of the victims.
(Minute of silence.)
Life goes on, and today we have a big event with the opening of this world junior championship and today’s match between two strong rivals. The young sportspeople will be battling it out in the same arena that in a year’s time will be hosting the 2014 Olympics events. I am sure this will be a memorable competition for hockey fans and for the players themselves.
Russian fans will be rooting for their own team of course, but we welcome all of our guests. Russians love hockey, know hockey, and will be able to appreciate the skill and courage of all of our guests.
I wish you all success!