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Meeting with Minister of Sport Pavel Kolobkov

February 11, 2019, The Kremlin, Moscow

Vladimir Putin held a working meeting with Minister of Sport Pavel Kolobkov. They discussed the development of mass sports in the country and the preparations for holding large international sports events, in particular, the 29th Winter Universiade that will take place in Krasnoyarsk in March 2019.

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, Mr Kolobkov,

Let us begin with the preparations for the Universiade in Krasnoyarsk.

Minister of Sport Pavel Kolobkov: Mr President, final preparations are underway for the Universiade, which is just days away now. Let me remind you that the Universiade will take place on March 2–12, but the first teams will arrive in the Universiade village as soon as February 23.

We are fully prepared for the games: athletes will compete for 76 sets of medals in 11 sports. All sports are included in the Olympics, except orienteering and bandy, which will be included in the Universiade for the first time.

Let me say a few words about the readiness of our team, for it is probably one of the most important issues.

Vladimir Putin: We should congratulate our bandy team on another victory at the world championships…

Pavel Kolobkov: A youth bandy world championships for athletes aged under 19 has been recently held there [in Krasnoyarsk]. And we won again in a fierce battle and defeated the Swedish team, which is our traditional rival, both during adult and youth events. We hope the team will play in a similar fashion during the Universiade.

It is also of great significance that a new high quality sports palace was built specifically for bandy games. Young athletes are training there and 5,000 spectators attended almost all the matches, because this sport is very popular in the city.

Vladimir Putin: It is a very spectacular kind of sport.

Pavel Kolobkov: Our team is practicing intensively now. We have included 800 people on our expanded list and will approve the final team on February 22, according to the International University Sports Federation regulations.

The average age of the team is 21. There are some very young athletes who are just starting their careers in sport, but there are plenty of experienced athletes who are already competing in world championships, well-known athletes.

In all events, we will compete for medals of any value. We are confident that our athletes are fully ready. I think that the audiences will appreciate our teams’ performance.

As we have already discussed, this is about bandy in particular, and, of course, this is an area where we should certainly qualify for winning gold medals, as well as skiing, freestyle, and snowboarding. In all sports, we will aim for gold medals or any medals.

A few words about our preparations. All the sports facilities are operational. All of them have been tested, and representatives of international federations have already visited them. And I must say that all plans have been approved: the medical, transport, and accommodation plans.

We are working on it, and I must say that we are now nearly 100 percent ready to receive the guests: 135,000 tickets have already been sold. We hope that sports fans will come and enjoy the Universiade.

This is not only a sporting event, it is also a cultural event, so there will be a cultural programme as well. The Universiade Cultural Programme has been approved. Its highlight will be the opening ceremony of the Universiade. The director of the Universiade is Ilya Averbukh, who has already directed many such events. He is also a great athlete, so it will be very interesting.

The Match-TV company will cover the Universiade and show the sporting events. Test events have already been held at all the venues, so we are confident that the Universiade will be held at a high level.

Last time, Mr President, you gave instructions regarding the legacy of the Student Games. All venues are already in use and operate either regional schools or municipal youth sports schools.

Two venues will be transferred to federal ownership, specifically, the Rainbow Cluster with a swimming pool, a ski stadium and spacious sports halls. Students and pupils from the youth sports school in the region will go there. We will also use it to train our national teams.

Vladimir Putin: What sports?

Pavel Kolobkov: Swimming and cross country skiing. Yelena Vyalbe [President of the Russian Cross Country Ski Federation] and I discussed this issue. Of course, we will also use this centre to train our athletes. The Academy of Biathlon is located nearby. This centre was built a long time ago, but it was brought up to code recently. The biathlon competitions will be held there.

Of course, I am proud of the Sopka Centre that we have built. It is a specialised centre for training freestyle and snowboard athletes and is equipped with all kinds of tracks. There is a dry training facility equipped with a springboard. I think this is a unique structure with trampolines and a gymnastics centre – everything our athletes may need.

You may be aware that Krasnoyarsk is famous for its winter sport athletes. Twenty athletes from Krasnoyarsk – skeleton, bobsleigh, freestyle, snowboarding – a big team overall – took part in the Winter Olympics in Pyongyang. I think this region will give us many more high-performance athletes like this.

Thus, we are already working on matters related to holding major competitions. We hope to invite presidents of international federations to have a look. I want foreign athletes to come and do their pre-season training there and participate in competitions. This is a beautiful one-of-a-kind facility.

So, we are fully prepared for the Student Games and looking forward to our guests coming here and, of course, Mr President, we very much want to see you at the opening of the Student Games in Krasnoyarsk. I think you will enjoy it.

Vladimir Putin: Good. Thank you very much.

Pavel Kolobkov: We also hold a lot of competitions around the country. The total number is some 500 annually. This year the federal centre will co-finance 115 events. The largest of them will be the men’s and women’s World Boxing Championships.

It will be elimination contests for the next cycle of the Olympics, World Cups and World Cup series. Sochi is now hosting the FIS Alpine Ski World Cup series, for the first time since the 2014 Olympics. We supported the event, and now we are holding it. I hope that we will host them next year as well, although at a different time.

I will update you on the largest events that are scheduled to take place before 2023. In 2023, we will host the IIHF World Junior Championship for young hockey players aged below 20. We are building a new ice palace where the Sibir team will have its base. The city does need an ice centre which can seat10,000; we believe it will be filled to capacity.

Vladimir Putin: The Sibir team is playing quite well.

Pavel Kolobkov: It did not begin well…

Vladimir Putin: It has become better now, and it has won several matches.

Pavel Kolobkov: It is a good team, but, as you probably remember, half of it was renewed at the beginning of this season. Of course, every team must have its own traditions. The change of players, when it happens, is a painful matter.

I would like to say that we have won the right to host the 2022 Volleyball World Championship. We have signed the agreement, and now we are creating conditions for holding the event, including the executive directorate. We have prepared a draft government directive on the establishment of the organising committee.

We need to choose the cities that will hold the championship by May this year. The bid includes 10 cities, but the number can be cut to eight cities depending on the championship’s programme. All the cities named in the bid are capable of hosting these events. They have the necessary infrastructure.

Apart from such multisports events as the Olympics, or football world cup, this is another major competition that stands out. We expect to welcome many guests from foreign countries. It will be a really big event. We have already started preparing for it.

By the way, this year we will hold the FIDE World Cup 2019 in Khanty-Mansiysk. Overall, Khanty-Mansiysk has become a major chess centre.

We will also host many other sports events, including the FINA Short Course World Swimming Championship in 2022. Kazan hosts and files bids to host many sports events every year.

It is notable that we are paying attention not only to high performance sports but also to recreation sports. You have instructed us to involve 55 percent of Russian citizens in sports. It is a challenging and ambitious goal, but we know how to attain it.

We have adopted a federal project as part of the Demography national project. In 2018, 36.8 percent of citizens engaged in sports. We believe the figure will grow to 38 percent by the end of 2019.

We have named the project Sports Is a Norm of Life. We believe that everyone must see sports as a norm of life. It entails a much high quality of life and the creation of conditions and the training of coach personnel for achieving this goal.

The project provides for supporting sports clubs through grants, the holding of competitions, a system of championships, as well as support for infrastructure development of the most popular sports such as hockey and football. This is why we are signing agreements with all the regions and have already launched the implementation of this project together with our colleagues in the regions.

Vladimir Putin: Good.


February 11, 2019, The Kremlin, Moscow