I would like to once again wish you all a Happy New Year!
I hope you had good New Year holidays. Holidays which were quite long this year.
And I would like to talk to you about something that I think is very important. It is related to the development of physical culture and sport in our country.
The thing is that recently quite a few different things aimed at the development of physical culture and sports have been done, done with a view to creating normal conditions for recreation for millions of our citizens. But if we talk very frankly then what has been done remains insufficient. And maybe these New Year's holidays are a good opportunity to reflect a little on how we should develop physical education in Russia, and on how we should develop sports facilities in our country so that millions of our citizens take part in this normal form of recreation.
As you know, in 2014 the Winter Olympics will take place in our country. Now preparations have swung into full gear, as they say. We are constructing new facilities, creating new sports fields and sports venues. And we are doing all this despite the recent financial situation in the world and in our country, a situation which has, of course, deteriorated quite seriously because of the global financial crisis. But I think that is an area where we have no right to pinch pennies. Ultimately, people's well-being – what we refer to as the nation's health — depends on this.
And in this regard I believe that we must all learn how to relax. You know, to speak frankly we did not have the opportunities for such holidays or to develop such a culture during the Soviet period. And when each of us went somewhere abroad, for example, we were surprised to see how well our neighbours can relax. We should try to establish that same culture of leisure, that same culture of sports in our country. So that we can have such great New Year holidays and summer vacations in normal human conditions: engaging in physical exercise, relaxing with our families, and receiving great pleasure from this.
You know, the question of relaxation is always a very personal one. Each of us must decide how we are going to do so. This year I went skiing at Krasnaya Polyana in Sochi. I think that that we have now created perfectly decent, acceptable conditions for this sort of sport, the same conditions that exist in many European countries. I can tell you in all honesty that it gave me great joy, great pleasure to exercise in this way. I really liked it.