President Vladimir Putin: Mr President,
It is a great pleasure for me to make your personal acquaintance.
This year, Moscow hosted the World Indoor Athletics Championship. Our athletes put on a very successful performance and I am certain that Moscow could also host the World Outdoor Athletics Championship. I hope that the International Association of Athletics Federations will keep this in mind.
Athletics is very popular in Russia in general. We have around 300,000 children and young people involved in athletics in children’s sports schools alone.
Our country has adopted a federal government programme for supporting physical culture and sport that will be implemented over several years. Our objective is to triple the number of Russians practising physical culture and sports activities over the coming years.
You know of our ambitions, our healthy ambitions for the city of Sochi. We would like Sochi to host the 2014 Winter Olympics. We recently adopted a programme to develop Sochi and the surrounding region as a sports and recreation zone. Whether or not Sochi is chosen to host the 2014 games, the government will invest considerable funds in the region and attract private investors. Whatever happens, the country will develop this region for the benefit of our own citizens.
But we do hope, of course, that the IOC members will take all of this into account when making their decisions regarding the 2014 Olympic Games.
I am very pleased to have this opportunity to receive you in Moscow. I am sure that your visit to our country will help to develop sport and strengthen our direct contacts with the IOC and with international sports organisations, including the IAAF.
Lamine Diack: Thank you very much, Mr President.
It is a great honour and joy for me to have this opportunity to meet with you today. The World Indoor Athletic Championship took place here in March and many members of our council came to Russia to attend the event. We were very sorry that your busy schedule prevented you from attending in person. Our members are very pleased to have the chance to meet with you today to discuss sports issues, and also to thank you for all the efforts you are making to develop sport, considering that Russia is one of the great sporting nations.
There are approximately four million diploma-holding athletes in our federation, and 400,000 of them are from Russia, ten percent of the total, in other words. Russia therefore has every hope of organising the World Championship.
The World Indoor Athletics Championship was organised very well. I met the day before yesterday with Mayor of Moscow Yury Luzhkov and he told me about the plans to build athletics stadiums in Moscow. We had already discussed these plans with him on past occasions and I am pleased to see that this project is now beginning to take shape.
Cities such as Oslo and Zurich play host to these kinds of world championship events, and I think that Moscow should also host a major competition of this kind.
We had meetings yesterday and the day before with 29 countries taking part, six from Asia and 23 from Europe, and they all spoke Russian. We discovered that we even have a group of Russian-speaking participants with whom we have been working for 15 years already, and we will continue our work in this direction.
We greatly value Russia’s efforts in this area. We know about the programmes your government is carrying out and I know that various companies and businesses are also providing sponsorship support for sport.
I have been coming to Russia for 40 years now and it was 40 years ago that I heard of Sochi. This is one of the most popular resorts in Russia. I have looked at the dossier presented for Sochi’s bid. I am not a specialist in winter sports, but I think that the Olympic Games create an excellent opportunity for making increased efforts to develop sports in this region, and so I take note of your appeal and will do everything I can.