President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Friends,
Greetings to everyone at the open Russian Winter Paralympic Games.
You have gathered in the wonderful city of Khanty-Mansiysk, where people love sports, are proud of their sports traditions and, with great enthusiasm, supported the decision to hold these competitions for you, the best Paralympic athletes on the planet.
I am sure that you will fully feel the hospitality of Khanty-Mansiysk residents and, of course, the kindest emotions of fans, who will warmly support you and your brilliant performances.
There is no doubt that all this will give you a powerful boost of energy and help you achieve the best results and impressive world records, and win an honest and uncompromising fight, where the fundamental values of sport, free of politics and discrimination, will dominate.
Unfortunately, in recent years, a lot of major international competitions have been marked by events that are incompatible with sports, its spirit and atmosphere. We have repeatedly witnessed dubious and biased judging, slander, aggressive acts and outright provocations; we have seen how the ideas of Pierre de Coubertin are methodically falsified and distorted, and the once sacred principles of sports become blurred.
Right before our eyes, equality turned into perverted tolerance, justice became double standards, and the fight for clean sport became a politically biased dictatorship of the anti-doping bureaucracy.
The Olympic movement took a heavy blow with so-called shared responsibility, which was first launched by international sports officials at the Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.
All this leads not only to the loss of authority and independence of organisations that are important for the development of world sports, but also to the violation of the Olympic Charter, including the key thesis that the Games are a competition between athletes, not between states.
The height of cynicism was the suspension of Russian and Belarusian athletes from the Paralympics in Beijing. It was not just innocent athletes but Paralympic athletes who suffered – people who were not discouraged but overcame the most difficult trials in life, people who are worthy of all possible support and admiration, those who, by their example, give hope to millions, making people believe in themselves and in their strength.
Russia, which has always adhered to the ideals of sports and Olympism, will not put up with the deprivation of athletes or their mentors on their biggest day. They have been preparing for this for a long time. And we decided to hold our own competition, open to Paralympic athletes from around the world, to recognised leaders and debutants, to everyone who truly cares about sport and its values.
I know that here in Khanty-Mansiysk you will prove that you are the best, strongest, most courageous and talented athletes. We are proud of you!
I wish you all great success and, of course, exceptional victories!