President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Ladies and gentlemen, friends, colleagues, let me say a few words at the start of this gathering today.
First of all, I want to express my sincere thanks to the heads of state and government and all of our foreign guests here today for finding the time to come to this celebration of sport.
We value our good relations with our partners at all times, but today they are especially important and precious at this moment when we are getting ready to open the Olympics.
The opening of the XXII Olympic Games and the competitions ahead are more than just a magnificent celebration of sport. They are a symbol of unity, openness and mutual understanding for millions of people around the world and an exceptional event that belongs to all humanity.
I am particularly happy to be able to remind you that in Syria a three-day ceasefire of hostilities was declared today and humanitarian corridors have been opened in order to evacuate the wounded and give civilians – women and children – the chance to leave the war zone.
”We believe that these Games will give an energy boost and many wonderful impressions to fans around the world, and will fill their hearts with pride in their athletes and their countries. Even more importantly, they will inspire millions of people to take up sport themselves. Of course, they will also give people the opportunity to take a new look at Russia, its achievements, distinctiveness and traditions.“
I thank the Olympic Committee and the United Nations for this. Their appeals to the parties in the conflict unquestionably played a part in this decision. I hope this will set a good tradition and in this particular case will help to resolve all of the problems through peaceful means.
Russia prepared for this day, for the Olympics’ opening, aware of its responsibility and obligations to the Olympic Committee. We have done everything we can to ensure that joy, understanding, comfort and security reign here in Sochi. Not for an instant have we forgotten that we are preparing a celebration for athletes and for sports fans all around the world. This is above all their celebration.
Once again, I want to thank the International Olympic Committee for giving us the right to carry out this big project and show in practice our commitment to the Olympic values.
We believe that these Games will give an energy boost and many wonderful impressions to fans around the world, and will fill their hearts with pride in their athletes and their countries. Even more importantly, they will inspire millions of people to take up sport themselves. Of course, they will also give people the opportunity to take a new look at Russia, its achievements, distinctiveness and traditions.
This was an ambitious undertaking for our country. I think that any country that organises and hosts the Olympics does so with some ambition, but it is healthy ambition that aims to promote greater understanding between the world’s nations.
I remember how seven years ago in Guatemala I called on the members of the International Olympic Committee to support the Olympic ambitions of millions of Russians. Friends, we will do everything we can to live up to your expectations.
I propose a toast to the success of the Sochi Winter Olympics, to marvellous new achievements, and to the Olympic movement’s continued development!