President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr President, friends,
Mr President, you said just now that we took a risk in putting forward the Sochi project. I want to say though, that we all took a risk here, and not only the project’s Russian participants, but also our friends from the International Olympic Committee. They took a risk too. They had confidence in us, yes, but they nonetheless took a substantial risk, because no one could really be sure that we would manage to accomplish the immense amount of work required to host the Olympics. But they believed in us and decided to take the risk.
We in Russia have a wonderful saying that many know: “only those who take the risk ever get to drink champagne.” This makes for an excellent opportunity today to raise a glass of champagne together for our shared achievement. Thank you very much for believing in us.
We are very grateful to Mr Jacques Rogge and to all of the International Olympic Committee members, including you, Mr President, for supporting our bid and for the work you did together with our friend Jean-Claude Killy and with Mr Felly to support the project through each of its stages. This was very important. As I said yesterday when we met in narrow format – and these are not empty words – if it were not for this support that we had from you right from the project’s very start, we would perhaps not be looking at the success we have seen today.
This really was a huge undertaking. We made a conscious choice to carry out this project in the aim of developing southern Russia and developing global sport. Let me say again that this was certainly a very ambitious project for Russia, but our sole aim right from the start was to promote the Olympic spirit and develop sport in Russia and throughout the world. Right from the start, we completely and absolutely depoliticised this whole project.
I recall clearly your remarks at the opening of the IOC’s session here in Sochi. I can tell you that we fully and unquestionably consider all of the values and ideals that you spoke of in your remarks at the opening of the IOC’s session here in Russia as the fundamental principles for our work together now and in the future.
”We have shown the world that we can be welcoming and hospitable hosts. We tried to give the athletes, specialists, coaches and journalists everything they needed, give them good conditions for competition and for work.“
Of course we hope very much that everything that has been built here, the buildings, infrastructure, communications and transport facilities, will all be put to use. Mr President, I am very grateful to you for thinking about this too and proposing different options. I recall that just recently, you got me started on establishing a positive dialogue with the presidents of the international federations, saying that we should work actively with these ladies and gentlemen, so as to get them to include us in their plans for hosting relevant international competitions. We will be very happy if things do indeed work out this way.
I think that we have shown the world that we can be welcoming and hospitable hosts. We tried to give the athletes, specialists, coaches and journalists everything they needed, give them good conditions for competition and for work, and give sports fans all around the world a big celebration. We succeeded in this. Of course, as we say in Russia, we hoped to bring the party to our “Russian” street too.
I want to say thank you for all of the work over these last years. I thank my colleagues, the ordinary workers, the engineers, builders, and organisers, and of course I thank above all the last and current Russian Governments because, as I said yesterday, it was the Russian Government and its relevant ministries and agencies that were responsible for the main share of the work. They were involved in the concrete, practical, daily work on this project.
I thank you for the invitation to visit the IOC headquarters. I will certainly take up this offer at a time convenient for you, so as to discuss what else Russia can do to develop the Olympic movement and promote sport around the world.
Here in Russia, we will work on developing mass sport, children’s and youth sport, and sport for people with disabilities. As you know, many of those here today will continue their work now as we prepare for the opening and I hope successful hosting of the Paralympics.
These are all common tasks for us. I want to assure you that we will always be with you. We hope that you too, will continue to support us in our efforts.
Once more, thank you very much for this joint work. Thank you.