Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon,
Almost a year has gone by since our first meeting, when we discussed the main directions of the Council’s work. Then we agreed that its main task should be to assist state bodies in developing an effective policy on physical culture and sport.
The Council’s members have begun this work, and we will talk about this several times today. But before we move to specific issues of our agenda, I would like to mention briefly several priorities.
At the previous meeting, we determined as the number one task the revival of mass sport. This problem is large-scale and multi-faceted. And here the most important part of work remains, and I think you all agree with me here, the development of children’s sport above all.
In this area, some progress has already been seen. A school sports and athletics day has been held, in which millions of children took part. Mass competitions are also held on the most popular types of sport.
However, while these are necessary, they are still one-off events. They do not solve the problem as a whole. An enormous number of children still do not have the necessary conditions and opportunities for systematic sport activities.
According to our information, almost 150 sport schools are on the verge of being closed down. And the former practice of school and yard competitions is almost non-existent, which was a feature, I believe, of the childhood of the vast majority of people present here today.
It is clear that this situation can and must be changed. And perhaps we need to begin with schools, creating centres of a healthy, sporting way of life around them. And this does not just involve physical education lessons, but also such simple and important things as new sporting groups, sections, and playgrounds.
Of course, just one department – whether it is the Education Ministry, the Health Ministry or the State Sport Committee – cannot deal with this. Municipal authorities and regional authorities need to be involved – along with society as a whole. The media need to be asked for support. A fashion needs to be introduced for a sporting, healthy way of life.
There is another strategic task – ensuring the competitiveness of Russian sport. We know the resonance that victories of Russian athletes at international competitions have in society. We know the unifying force sport has, and how it can raise people’s spirits.
However, to maintain and increase competitive positions, an entire system of measures is required, including in the legislative sphere. The head of the State Sports Committee and I have talked about this several times, and I think it is necessary today to mention the most important aspects. We have said several times that a new version of the law “On Physical Culture and Sport” is needed. In the currently existing law, such a concept as professional sport is not even laid out. There is also no sound legislative base for medical and social insurance in sport, which is very important for athletes who essentially devote their entire lives to sport. There is no necessary legal base for making sport contracts or developing sports sponsorship.
Essentially, there is no legal base that is adequate to the present day, which could work effectively in new modern conditions. I suggest that today this topic also needs to be brought up and discussed.
I hope that during the discussions, you will also mention other directions in the development of physical culture and sport in the country. Today, we should also analyse the implementation of decisions of those problematic issues which we discussed at the Council last time. I mean, among other things, the creation of physical culture and health complexes. In several regions, as far as I know, this is being done. I would very much like to hear your opinion – how we can develop this further, and what needs to be done in addition so this programme is put into effect.
Furthermore, we have a busy agenda concerning the consolidation of the material and technical base of sport and training for the Olympic Games.
In conclusion, I would like to stress once again: the health of the nation depends directly on the successful development of physical culture and sport in our country. And not only do all levels of power need to be involved in this work, but all of society needs to be relied on, in the direct sense of the word.
Thank you for your attention.