President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Good afternoon, colleagues! Members of the Council!
Today, our meeting is devoted to two major topics: preparation for the Winter Olympics and Paralympics in Sochi and the World University Summer Games, which will take place in Kazan in 2013.
These events, which are important for the development of our country and sports in our country, will occur one after the other, and will require us to make unprecedented efforts in terms of the opportunities and responsibilities that will open up before us. This work will require a great deal of coordination and precision in fulfilling the resolutions that have already been made and which will be made in the future. That is why we must discuss in detail how preparations are proceeding, and deal with the issues that are currently important in preparation for these events.
At this time, the initial stage of the Olympic project is drawing to a close. This year, we will begin to build Olympic facilities, which is the meat of the work. In this regard, it is imperative to conclude all project work that has been conducted up to now, and unconditionally follow the schedule that we have instated for ourselves.
I would like to also draw your attention to the fact that, although the Sochi-2014 Organising Committee has established good business relations with the International Olympic Committee (IOC), and the IOC is generally satisfied with the way that things are progressing, this issue must nevertheless be under constant control by everyone present here, all individuals who are responsible for resolving these issues, especially in the area of providing finances and using funds that have been budgeted in relation to the Olympics.
And there is another issue that is a concern for everyone today. We have set up the work, and it is ongoing. Nonetheless, there are many approvals required, many things that must be done “in the field” get bogged down in administrative problems. Authorities responsible for this process are in constant talks with one another, but regular work has not yet been established – I am referring to the relations between various departments and State Corporation Olympstroy, and with the Organising Committee; all this needs to be gathered together. For this, we have a Deputy Prime Minister who is in charge of the process.
We need to quickly prepare the documents which are necessary for beginning construction, rather than just project work; I mean, the technical parameters, and we should also agree on the procedures that have still not been agreed upon, because that is our direct responsibility.
As far as the World University Games are concerned, we still need to ensure the construction of sports facilities and the World University Village, and determine the mechanisms for financing them, including financing the managerial board.
Furthermore, we need to make final regulations regarding a number of issues relating to development of Sochi. What issues are those? First, we should update anything that requires it (although the regulatory system is fresh and new). Perhaps we should make changes to current legislation in regard to the system of management and construction of infrastructure for the Olympics in Sochi. It is also necessary to give the Ministry of Regional Development the power to act as a coordinating authority, which this department is, in effect, already doing. I would also like to note that the organisation of the World University Games faces the same problems. All these issues must be swiftly resolved by the Government Cabinet.
It is important to finish regulating issues related to providing land for Olympic construction, and issues related to resettling people. And it is imperative to deal with each resettled family. First, this is a very significant issue, and second, this issue cannot be resolved abstractly. This concerns relations with each individual family, with the people who live on the corresponding plots of land. Naturally, we must take into account all rights that are established for those families and all citizens by current legislation that we have developed and passed.
Right now, most of the necessary land areas for building Olympic facilities have been allotted, but only about 50 percent of land has been allotted for the development of Sochi as a city (this is an issue involving many more problems). This is major, serious work, and without a doubt, this work must be accelerated as much as possible. The city administration should have the opportunity to form a so-called flexible housing fund for providing people with housing in exchange for the land and homes being confiscated.
There is a second, very important goal for Sochi. In addition to constructing Olympic facilities, our goal is to turn Sochi into a major sports and recreational centre for summer and winter sports, for active vacations and improving people’s health. We must ultimately build a modern, world-class resort with developed infrastructure and a developed social sphere, which should conform to all ecological parameters. And, of course, it should be a city that will be comfortable for its own inhabitants, including people with disabilities. In this way, we must create the standards of accessibility which will be used in all the regions. The development and implementation of the Sochi: A Hospitable City program thus takes on particular significance.
Next, the third point that I would like to discuss. The Olympic project and the World University Games are nationwide projects, and all the subjects of the Federation should be interested in their success, rather than just the ones where these events are taking place. I feel that regional construction organisations should take part in bidding for contracts to build facilities for the Olympics and the World University Games. Speaking of which, these events may be a good form of support to Russia’s construction industry during this time of financial crisis.
Clearly, in today’s economic circumstances, we also need more active measures in seeking investors. The Organising Committee already has certain ideas for attracting commercial partners. They need to be developed, particularly since the situation right now is not simple. We are building facilities of great potential; they will also need to be in demand after the Olympics and World University Games are over.
In this regard, there is another idea worthy of our attention: the idea of creating a Russian International Olympic University in Sochi. This university will prepare managers and organisers for large sporting events, as well as other events on that scale, for our country and for other countries.
Another set of challenges that stands before all of us is the challenge of training athletes. The Olympic Games in Vancouver and London will be important steps in this process. And clearly, this training needs to begin as early as possible, giving our athletes a full-fledged training base, including new facilities. We also need to rapidly resolve issues regarding the provision of personnel, scientific methods, medicine and biology, and anti-doping measures. I just spoke with our track and field team, and in short, we have things to discuss.
Perhaps the most important goal is to use the sporting events in Sochi and Kazan as a stimulus to modernise the entire system of physical activity and sports in our country, especially among young people, children, and teenagers. It is clear that experienced athletes will be competing for our country’s honour, but at the same time, the generation that will be attending the World University Games and the Olympics is growing up. Today, they are studying in schools, in universities, and we have just a few years to prepare them.
We also need to fine-tune an effective system for selecting young athletes. Some athletes who are beginners today could very well go to Vancouver and London to gain experience. It could become an important phase in their preparation for the Olympics in Sochi.
We also need to establish a system for preparing and training sportsmen; here sports schools for children and teenagers should play a key role. Vitaly Mutko [Minister of Sports, Tourism, and Youth Politics] and I were just speaking about it, together with our colleagues who are doing training sessions here. Such schools exist in every region; but their state of being is, lightly speaking, mediocre.
In addition, it turns out that they are divided between various departments: some of the schools fall under the responsibility of authorities who are in charge of developing physical activity and sports, while some other schools (about half and half) are under the responsibility of educational authorities. And this does not promote the improvement of these schools for children and youth overall. Overall, work on these schools needs to become a priority project, under the care of all the subjects of the Federation.
In order to develop student sports, it is imperative to strengthen public organisations for youth, such as the Russian Sports Union. The results of its activities, especially considering our latest performance at the World University Games in China, where we did quite well, give us hope.
I think that we could make the necessary resolution, including aspects related to procedural and institutional forms of work. By the way, we should not forget about the social structures that are called upon to work on the development of military and technical sports; this is not an Olympics-related topic, but still.
At the same time, it is important to prepare specialists who can run the competitions in Sochi and Kazan, including the formation of student and other volunteer groups; neither the Olympics nor the World University Games can ever make it without their help. This is a separate and, overall, fairly serious job. Recruiting young people from every region for this purpose needs to be done this year, therefore we need to start working on it right now. All the necessary resolutions, including organisational ones, must also be made without delay.
This is a set of issues to be studied by today’s Council. Let’s begin working.
Colleagues, I will summarise our work today.
The list of instructions has been prepared. This list shows the current phase of our preparations. It also shows the main trends. Clearly, we still have a great deal of work to do. It is the job of the Government, it is the job of the region, and it is our job as members of this Organising Committee.
Now, to talk about some nuances that we heard during the presentations. Some presentations spoke about the Foundation to Support Olympic Athletes. In any event, this instrument has shown its effectiveness quite well. We count on keeping it. Therefore, I think that in the near future, I, as the chairman of this Foundation, will need to meet with its founders and participants, and hold a discussion with them on how it will work in the short term, addressing the issue of scheduling financial support for potential Olympic-medal winners, and several other issues. Naturally, we are grateful to all the participants, all the members of this foundation, for providing financial support.
Now, in regard to several issues relating to, among other things, the World University Games, but not exclusively. Indeed, our universities are preparing athletes for various types of sports. But I must admit that the legislation on universities and the legislation on education in general is not really that conducive to resolving these issues. I think that we must look at our standards, and the general statutory legislation on universities in order for the corresponding profiling and work to be fully reflected in the rules regulating the activities of higher education institutions. Only then will we be able to get results that are in line with the sports achievements of other countries, particularly in countries where university sports are highly developed.
There is another topic that our colleagues kept bringing up in one form or another: the issue of a volunteer movement. This is a question of volunteer motivation, and generally, a question of creating this volunteer movement. We must address this issue with the greatest care, because we really are talking about hundreds of thousands of people, both for Sochi and for Kazan. And I think that to a great extent, the work of these volunteers will also be related to the general atmosphere that is brewing in both cities (Sochi and Kazan), the atmosphere around the Olympics and the World University Games. If we are unable to create the corresponding mood, those volunteers will simply not come to work. This is a major political undertaking, and it is ultimately an issue of political stability, both during the elections, as Prime Minister Vladimir Putin was just saying, and generally, in connection to the political situation in the country. Everyone present here should remember this when we take practical action.
There is another exceedingly important issue: the issue of developing sports schools for children and youth. This issue is very important and very much neglected. The provision of financing for such schools should receive our careful attention, because without them, there is no future for sports in Russia. And here, we do not need to call each other to action, making general speeches; this issue is obvious, we just need to work on it at every level, including the federal and regional levels.
And there is one final thing that I would like to say in exchanging our views. Indeed, we still have much to do. The success of our athletes in competition will depend on our ability to work together in a coordinated way, and the extent to which it will be possible to push aside bureaucratic hurdles, which appear in one form of another. Because a longer cycle of preparations will lead to better results. This sounds like a platitude, but it is entirely true.