President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Dear friends!
We have been planning to get together for some time now. We talked about it around a month ago, at the meeting of the State Council Presidium and the Presidential Council for the Development of Physical Culture and Sport. The Russian Olympians Foundation has been working for four years now and has already achieved a lot.
I want above all to thank you for the work you have done to support sport in our country, the work you have done as members of the Board of Trustees, members of the sports community and the business community. Of course, as always, there were some rough patches to smooth out at first, but overall, your work has been a success.
Today, Russia is still one of the leaders in the world ranking, and our Olympians’ latest achievements further confirm this. But at the same time, competition has always been a driving force in sports, and it is very fierce today. Countries such as the United States of America, the People’s Republic of China, Germany and other countries that have always been among the world leaders are consolidating their positions. If we want to go about giving our Olympians the right training, we need to make real systemic decisions. Of course, these decisions go beyond the work of this Foundation. They are decisions that need to be made at state level, decisions that need to be implemented nationally, by the whole country. But nevertheless, your work over this time has also had played its part.
We need to pay particular attention now to summer Olympic sports. We need, of course, to identify the talented athletes who will compete, the top-class coaches and specialists who will work with the teams, and, closer to the Foundation, use the system of grants to organise all the right conditions for training. The Foundation will probably need to work together with the Ministry of Sports and Tourism and other agencies to draft a support programme and make the necessary adjustments to its own documents, including its budget.
Another priority I think we could discuss today is the development of sports for children and young people, and the development of sports schools. Working together with the regions is very important in this area. In the 1990s, this work was much neglected, and we now have to start rebuilding the system of sport for children and young people in our country. Often, equipment is in short supply and teachers and coaches receive low wages. But if we do not develop sport at this level, we will not succeed in developing sport in general in the country. This is obvious and needs no further explanation. We need to draw up the relevant methodology and programmes. I think these are all issues we can discuss today.
We also need to work on raising sports medicine, including anti-doping control, to a new level. The anti-doping situation is very problematic indeed. You know of the recent series of sorry results we have had in this area. This has essentially become a problem of state importance, and we will need state involvement to deal with it.
Colleagues, we all know that the more people take up physical culture and sport, the healthier we are as a nation. In the developed countries, according to available figures, up to 20% of the population is involved in sport. The figures for our country are twice lower. This means that not only could we face problems in sports competitions, but with our nation’s health in general. In this context, the Foundation’s work is not just about supporting our Olympians, supporting top-level sport, but also about developing sport and physical culture in the country in general, promoting a healthy lifestyle and resolving a wide range of sometimes very complex social problems.