The meeting focused on the results of Russian athletes’ performance at the 32nd Olympic Games and 16th Summer Paralympic Games as well as the development of sports for children and young people.
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President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Colleagues,
I would like to welcome all of you to this meeting.
Today we are going to discuss the results of the Olympics and Paralympics in Tokyo. And, of course, we will talk about the future, and the future refers to children, so we will discuss the tasks for the development of sports for children and young people. These topics are interconnected: the path to big, Olympic sports begins during childhood and outstanding athletes’ achievements serve as an example to follow and mostly determine a young person’s choice to follow a healthy active lifestyle.
I am confident that the victories of our athletes in Tokyo will also bear fruit. Once again, I congratulate the Russian Olympians, Paralympians, Russian Olympic and Paralympic teams, and all the athletes, coaches, and specialists on their worthy performance. We will definitely meet with the winners in the very near future. I would be happy to personally congratulate them and say thank you.
Of course, our athletes did a great job. And support is necessary for them to progress and set new records, first of all from the state, among others. New, up-to-date solutions are necessary at all levels: from children’s sections and clubs to national teams.
Sports, like all spheres of our life, is developing actively today.
There already are instructions to take measures to improve the system of high-performance management of sports, including the legislation. I know that the Government is closely working on this right now. We need to carry out the necessary work as fast as possible.
Now it is important to take the next step: to significantly update, upgrade and increase the capacities of the infrastructure used to train athletes for all Olympic and Paralympic sports.
We need to use Russia’s unique geographic location and enormous territory, which, as we know, includes most climatic zones. We have planes, mountains, all types of water reserves, and this means a clear natural advantage. Our athletes can train for competitions taking place in any part of the world in camps back home in Russia, at home, and home, as you know, is best.
There are plans to create a federal training centre in the Far East. Preparations for the Olympics in Tokyo and Beijing showed that such a place is necessary.
The state will support initiatives to create facilities for new Olympic sports. Here, I would just like to point out the timing of the construction of the unique Palace of Martial Arts at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, where international boxing and sambo centres are to open shortly.
The IOC has permanently recognised the International Sambo Federation. This does not only mean a backbone encouragement for the development of this sport – and let me remind you that it is our national sport – but its recognition all over the world and a direct road towards including sambo in the programme of the future Olympic Games.
I would also like to point out that when upcoming large sports events are discussed, questions about Russian athletes’ participation arise inevitably. And, of course, here – I do not wish to go into any details right now – we can see evident political taint in the decisions of the International Court of Arbitration for Sport regarding our teams and Russia in general. However, these decisions must be executed. By January 2023, when the restrictions are lifted, Russian athletes must be fully equal participants in any world tournaments.
I would like to ask the Minister of Sport to report today on cooperation with the World Anti-Doping Agency on the restoration of RUSADA’s status as well as on what exactly has been done to restore the status of the Russian Athletics Federation in the IAAF.
In conclusion on the subject of the Tokyo Games, I would like to say thank you to the Russian Olympians Foundation for its longstanding and weighty contribution to the development of high performance sports. I am sure that the foundation’s activity will gather pace, first of all as relates to the new kinds of Olympic programmes.
A well-trained Olympic reserve is very important here. But the availability of mass sports, beginning from a very young age, is even more important for the future of the country, the health of the nation and the wellbeing of its citizens.
In this regard, there is another topic on our agenda, namely children’s and youth sports.
During the spring, a law on the harmonisation of regulations in education, physical fitness and sports was adopted. It will allow for combining the standards of sports training and additional education programmes, as well as the goals of improving sporting skills and spiritual and moral development, the upbringing of the young generation, and also returning the respectable status of a mentor to coaches.
The law will come into force on January 1, 2023. But we need to develop the foundation for its implementation, an action plan from the federal to the municipal levels, this year already.
Meanwhile, a concept of the development of children’s and youth sports has to be adopted. The main objective is to involve the younger generations in sports, with an emphasis on preschoolers, children with disabilities and those from deprived backgrounds.
The Council’s working group has prepared a good draft concept. The head of the group, Oleg Kozhemyako, will speak more on its main terms.
Considering the possibilities of the education system and its goal to reveal the spiritual and physical potential of all children, I would like to ask the Government to provide additional measures to support the implementation of the concept. The more so since the Russian regions need to develop their own programmes as part of it.
The priorities include the creation of a network of such places as centres for children’s early physical development and school clubs. And, of course, the schools themselves need to have all the necessary equipment for sports classes. I already mentioned that at a recent meeting of the Presidium of the State Council devoted to general education. Thousands of schools that are to be built or overhauled in the next few years have to get sports equipment, as well as all other Russian secondary and sports schools.
In addition, before the end of this year, the construction and maintenance of integrated sports facilities must be included in the relevant state programmes. Contemporary construction technologies allow for the prompt building of such complexes, of good quality and in large numbers, as we saw from the construction of the infectious disease hospitals during the pandemic. It is important that these facilities are within walking distance so they are convenient for young people and families with children.
By the way, this concerns swimming pools as well. In Soviet times, swimming pools were considered a luxury. But swimming is not only a kind of sport, but a life-saving skill that also improves health.
A separate interagency programme is needed here. It should be developed taking into account the production of Russian-made prefabricated pools. It is much easier to do that now than it used to be in the past. We need to include swimming lessons for children in the education system and organised children’s leisure. We will allocate funding for a programme to teach swimming to children starting in 2022, both at the federal and regional levels.
I would also like to remind the regional governors that by 2024, we need to bring the level of budget-funded sports to at least 2 percent of the total share of expenditures. This money should go mostly to grassroots sports, which is a priority. The mechanism for the development and support of mass sports at all levels must also be worked out in detail. I hope that the Government will lend a helping hand to the regions with this.
It is also vital to concentrate on attracting extra-budgetary sources of financing, in particular, to define the procedure for the distribution of taxes from bookmaking and betting offices, which we planned to channel into children’s and youth sports. The relevant legislative decisions have been made. I will ask the Minister of Sport to report on how and when they will be implemented.
We will discuss in detail grassroots sports and the implementation of the earlier given instructions at the next meeting of our council, and we will also focus on the preparations for the 2023 Summer World University Games to be held in Yekaterinburg.
Let us get to work.
Vladimir Putin: To conclude, I would like to say the following. We will certainly adjust the final documents in line with your suggestions and proposals – I mean the assessments made and voiced today – for this to become a working document, an action plan on such an important matter as boosting fitness and sport, including mass sports, which we are still to discuss later, as I mentioned at the beginning.
I would like to note that the overall result is satisfactory. Our athletes brought 15 more medals from Tokyo than from Rio. Nevertheless, there are issues which we have to give special attention and careful consideration. There are sports where our athletes failed to win medals for the first time ever. There are also sports in which no medals were won for the second time. Meanwhile, our athletes failed to qualify for the Olympics in seven sports altogether.
Clearly, there are sports that are exotic for our country such as baseball or even golf, and although an increasing number of people do play them, but still. However, neither men’s nor women’s classical basketball team managed to get to the competition. The basketball clubs keep playing, and their games are elegant and exciting, and they show good results in club tournaments. We have to look into what is going on with those club teams and why they need so many foreign players if we do not have a national team. These issues need a thorough consideration.
The same with football. I recently heard suggestions that we should lift restrictions on the number of foreign players. Great. Haven’t you heard that our national football team has been out of the Olympics since 1988? And it will stay out for another 20 years if only foreign footballers play here. I will skip the types of sport in which we have always been successful and achieved good results.
I mean to say first, as I mentioned earlier, that the entire high performance sport starts with children’s and junior sport, and with mass sport. One of our colleagues has rightly said here – I think it was Mr Lukin speaking about parasports, but it applies to all sport – the larger the field where people and, most importantly, children do sport, the more chances we have to see young stars who will subsequently sparkle at international arenas and will bring joy to millions of fans in our country and around the world.
Therefore, this is the starting point for large-scale work, and we should spare no effort here. I also address regional heads now. I have already said that we must have certain standards for allocating budget funds for this work, which is crucial both in terms of raising young people and in terms of promoting healthy living and health preservation. As people say, the more you exercise, the fewer pills you will take. Therefore, it is an obvious matter, and it should be pursued on a system-wide basis.
So let us agree that the result will not be just more papers that we will draft again with good intentions. It should be an action plan, guidelines that that are guaranteed to take us to a better situation with fitness and sport in the entire country and new achievements in Olympic sports in the international arena.
I would like to thank you all for today’s joint work and to express hope that we will keep working as hard in future.
Thank you very much.