President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, my friends.
I hope everyone can hear and see me. I am also delighted to see you all.
In just a few days, the Summer Paralympic Games will open in Tokyo. Meeting with the national team before this important period has become a good tradition of ours. When I say ‘ours,’ I am not referring only to myself, but to all my colleagues who have joined us today. True, this time our format is different: you are at your training centres scattered accross Russia. But I am sure that even a videoconference can convey the warmth we all feel, our worries and concerns for you, our pride in your achievements in life and in sports.
I know that you have performed brilliantly in your qualifying tournaments, showed good results, fully demonstrating your legendary mettle and incredible willpower. The Paralympic movement’s mission is to inspire and amaze the world – this is specifically about you.
After a prolonged hiatus, Russian athletes will again demonstrate their unique skills at your main competition, the Paralympics.
Our team’s path towards its goal turned out to be a long one, and the postponement for one year because of the pandemic was not the only reason. We all remember the Russian team’s unfair expulsion from Rio de Janeiro in 2016, still feeling bitterness over the absurd decision to suspend the Russian Paralympic Committee’s membership in the International Committee. That was perhaps one of the most compelling pieces of evidence of direct political interference in sports.
Fortunately, the situation is changing, and all of us –fans and athletes alike – are looking forward to the start of the Tokyo Games with particular excitement.
Over the years, Russian Paralympic athletes have achieved outstanding victories at top international competitions. Our delegation in Tokyo includes eminent athletes as well as promising, bright young competitors.
Your unyielding will, your dedication to win in spite of all odds provides an incredibly powerful stimulus for millions of people around the world. I think it is fundamentally important for the media, including federal television channels, and federal radio stations, to cover Paralympic sports as broadly and thoroughly as possible, and I will ask our colleagues from the media to do so.
Paralympic tournaments and championships are much more than just sporting events. Competitions between people who have reached the heights of fortitude, disdained any challenges, and expanded the boundaries of human capabilities are the best and necessary example for everyone of how one should live, believe in themselves and work towards their goals.
All of us – our vast and beautiful Russia – are very proud of you and wish you great victories. I am sure you will fight for yourselves and for your coaches and mentors, for your friends, for your towns and regions, and for our entire big country, and Russia’s flag and anthem will be in your hearts.
I have no doubt that you all have the most combative attitude, and are eager and ready to fight. Still, I would like to hear more about you; I want you to tell me if you are happy with your living and training conditions, or if there is anything we can do to help at the moment. Whatever it is, I am ready to hear out your questions and comments.
Vladimir Putin: Here is what I would like to say in conclusion.
The training of the Paralympic team to reach such heights as the Paralympic competition is always related to special difficulties and issues that require close attention.
The Minister just spoke about doctors and experts and their delicate work. These are people with superior skills, I mean the experts: coaches, organisers and psychologists. I also want to personally thank all the experts who have worked with you for many years. They require special attention and are worthy of particular respect.
But, of course, all the attention will be focused on you guys, your successes and achievements. I never for a moment doubt that you will succeed.
I wish you luck with all my heart. We will be watching the Paralympics and rooting for you fervently.
I wish you all the best.