President Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, dear friends and colleagues,
It is my great pleasure to welcome you here to Moscow, although another city, Kazan, is the reason behind this meeting.
We are very pleased to see the arrival of the evaluation commission that will soon decide which city is to host the 2011 World University Games. Russia last hosted the World University Games in 1973.
I must say that we think that Kazan would be the best choice of venue to host an event of this kind.
For a start, Kazan lies between East and West in the most direct sense, in the geographical sense. It is home to people of more than 100 different ethnic groups and many different religions. Set against the national economic situation in general, Kazan and the Republic of Tatarstan are showing excellent growth rates. The city and the republic pay a lot of attention to sports. Kazan recently celebrated the 1000th anniversary of its founding and the republic has done a great deal to develop it as a suitable modern centre.
Kazan’s rivals are no less worthy cities in Poland and in China. But whatever your decision, we are happy to see you here anyway and we are certain that your visit will help to develop sports among young people and students. We will be happy to strengthen the relations we have with you.
George Killian: Thank you. First of all, I would like to say that it is a great honour and privilege for us that you have found the time to meet with us.
You mentioned 1973. Three members of our delegation took part in those World University Games – our secretary general, the treasurer and myself. The United States, for the first time in history, sent such a representative delegation to the World University Games in your country in 1973.
Back then this was quite an unusual journey for us. We were all a lot younger than we are now and, to tell the truth, we did not know how we would be received and what would await us in the Soviet Union. But the reality surpassed all our expectations. We were welcomed very warmly indeed and had a simply magnificent reception, and the level of hospitality and cooperation with Russia has been very high ever since then.
I met with the mayor of Kazan and, as I already said to my colleagues, I sensed a very good attitude towards people and, although the mayor and I met only once, we made friends.
I was lucky enough this morning to meet with Vyacheslav Fetisov, who I often saw out on the ice on television in the United States.
I can inform you that my colleagues will go to Kazan to evaluate the city. I must warn you that this group is only a part of those who will actually take the final decision, because there are 22 people on the council, and I cannot predict the final result.