President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Friends and guests,
Today is a special and joyful occasion. The Olympic flame, the symbol of our world’s main sports event, and of peace and friendship, has arrived in Russia and in just a few minutes will begin its journey across our vast country.
This relay will be truly unique. The Olympic flame will travel 65,000 kilometres, pass through every region in our country and show the world Russia that we know and love, its diversity, size, originality, beauty, natural wealth, unique culture, and the achievements of our multi-ethnic people, who are united by their common goals and their pride in our great homeland. The world will see our united people, in whom history has instilled the values of justice, mutual assistance and support, openness and friendship, respect, equality and diversity – all ideals that echo the Olympic movement’s values.
It is only natural that people in Russia have such great love for sport and for everything related to it. It would be impossible to organise such big sports events here without our public’s active support and interest. The Sochi Olympics really have become a common cause and common dream that we are making real.
Today, I want to thank sincerely everyone who is taking part in the Sochi Olympics preparations, and everyone who supports these Games and wants to make them a success. It is people like you who are entrusted with carrying the Olympic flame across Russia: athletes and public figures, teachers, doctors, students and senior citizens. Each of the 14,000 torchbearers – and there are this many torchbearers – has earned the right to become a part of Olympic history through their real deeds for our country’s good and in the name of promoting sports and a healthy, active way of life.
I am sure that this relay will light a flame in the hearts of millions of people, and the Olympic torch, which takes its inspiration from the enchanted firebird’s feather, will bring joy and good fortune to millions of our people.
I wish you a good journey to the XXII Winter Olympics!
Go well, Olympic flame! Until we meet again in Sochi!