Also representing Russia at the meeting were Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak, Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko, President of the Russian Paralympic Committee Vladimir Lukin, and President of the Sochi-2014 Organising Committee Dmitry Chernyshenko.
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President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr President, friends,
I wanted to meet with you to hear your views on the competition so far, how everything has been organised as far as it concerns providing for the athletes’ needs, the technical side of things, and the organisation of the events themselves. I’d like to know if you have any comments or suggestions to make so that we can make any necessary adjustments over the remaining days of the Paralympics.
Let me assure you that we will do everything we can to make sure that these Games finish just as successfully as they began. Of course, we will continue to work together with the International Paralympic Committee and cooperate in the future too, after the Paralympic Games are over.
President of the International Paralympic Committee Sir Philip Craven: Well, Mr President, if you’ll just let me make a few comments and just say that we’ve issued a press release today halfway through the Games. That press release does have quite a few statistics in it that we’re very happy with, such as ticket sales going through the 300,000-barrier, which has never happened before. But even more important than statistics is really the way that the athletes have settled into life in Sochi and in Rosa Khutor and their happiness with where they are, the quality of the accommodation, the food, the transport, the training venues, and of course the competition venues. I think happy and relaxed athletes then give us their best performances.
Those performances have been attended by amazing crowds, Russian crowds, and we’ve seen in effect what now I’m calling the Paralympic effect, which is, wherever the Paralympic Games goes, we attract big crowds, and the crowds support all the athletes from all the nations. Of course, the Russian crowds support the Russian athletes a little bit more – that’s totally natural. I’ve asked this gentleman here to just cut down on the number of medals from a certain sport. But with Dmitry [Chernyshenko] with his Organising Committee, and with your incredible support, we are having fantastic Games here. But I can’t say halfway through the Games what I already think I am going to say at the closing ceremony. That would not be right, but it’s going to be very, very positive. I could say a few more words, but I’ll be very happy if maybe our colleagues would like to contribute also.
Vladimir Putin: Thank you for your remarks and for this assessment.
As you know, I watched some of the events, and I must say that after following the competition for a couple of minutes, you quite simply forget that the athletes competing are people with disabilities. This makes a strong emotional impact. This goes for sledge hockey, alpine skiing, the skiing events in general, all the different competitions and categories. Of course we are very happy with the way competition is going for our Paralympics team. They have 34 medals now, including 11 gold medals. We are very proud of our Paralympic athletes.
I fully agree with you and have seen with my own eyes how our crowds are supporting all of the athletes from all countries. This really is very important and is a big moral component of the Paralympics.
International Paralympic Committee CEO Xavier Gonzalez Lafont: Mr President, I have only a couple of additions to what Philip has said. One is the volunteers, they are giving extraordinary support and are extremely friendly and knowledgeable. All the people I have spoken to have said how pleasant they are and how knowledgeable they are. The second comment concerns the technical conditions and that the fact all the conditions have been met for the athletes to be able to compete.
Vladimir Putin: Thank you.