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Opening of international sport forum Russia – Country of Sports

October 11, 2016, Vladimir Region

Vladimir Putin spoke at a plenary session of the sixth Russia – Country of Sports international forum.

The forum is being held in the town of Kovrov, Vladimir Region, on 10–13 October, and is dedicated to promoting physical fitness and sport in Russia through 2030, and developing mechanisms to counter global threats, including doping and fixing the outcome of competitions. The programme also includes a number of sporting events, workshops, and exhibitions.

* * *

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, friends.

I am pleased to welcome you to our traditional international sports forum.

This year, it is held in Vladimir Region. Kovrov is a small town, but this is an ancient land, a centre of Russian statehood. For us, this land is of a particular historical, cultural and civilisational value.

I am sure that many of you have already explored the landmarks of Vladimir Region, witnessed the magnificence of Russian architecture, the unmatched crafts practiced here, and had a chance to experience the sincere and warm hospitality that is characteristic of the Russian people, and their open and generous hearts. I am referring to our foreign guests. Let us welcome them once again, and thank them for coming here.

I hope you also had a chance to see that the centuries-old history of Vladimir Region goes hand in hand with its dynamic present-day growth. Indeed, this is a region with major industrial, cultural, educational, and tourist potential.

This potential is being successfully developed, and the example of Vladimir Region shows us how much positive change has occurred in this country in recent years, including the sphere of physical fitness and sport. Promoting them has become a top priority of our social policy. These efforts of the state, society, and numerous sport enthusiasts have already produced visible results. Sport has reclaimed its appeal, most importantly, among children and young people.

The combination of brilliant victories at the world's biggest competitions, the development of the sports infrastructure, an ever growing appreciation of the importance of a healthy lifestyle are positive results. Opting to do sports is an evident trend in our country; sports have become trendy. The Government will continue working to create conditions for physical fitness and sports.

We will certainly welcome those who take on the responsibility to establish local teams, develop school and university sports, and organise various competitions; we certainly support athletic and sports organisations and the revived Ready for Labour and Defence movement.

The sports industry is primarily socially oriented. However, we understand that at the same time, it should be a factor of economic growth and economic development, should contribute to the development of modern sports infrastructure and industry, and should stimulate small and medium-sized enterprises to manufacture sporting goods and equipment.

All the targets listed in the sector’s Development Strategy until 2020 should certainly be met. Moreover, we must start working towards the targets of the next long-term period of sports development in Russia.

Friends, as I have said, forum participants include heads of international sports organisations, those who are professionally engaged in sports and sports event organisation, who see sport as the focus of their lives, who devote their talent and skills to promoting the humanistic values ​​of sport.

Sports are rightly called a universal language of communication, and I am confident that our cooperation will unfold in the spirit of mutual trust and strong partnership. We will work together to keep sport fair and transparent, completely open and non-political, so that its ideas and values ​​unite countries and peoples.

When we discuss the purity of sport, we mean not only politics, which, unfortunately, interferes with sport, but also taking on doping. Of course, sport should be free of doping. We will fight for the purity of sport. But we must know for sure what is being done and how in this critical area. We all need to know who is being checked and when, how such tests are conducted, what the results are and what comes next in the process.

We must, of course, eliminate any and all abuse in this sphere. We all saw how many so-called authorisations for medical reasons were issued to particular athletes. Perhaps all is as it should be, and I will give them the benefit of the doubt, but we need to understand how we are going to approach this. Otherwise, we may face a situation where all the records and victories come from athletes who suffer from particular chronic diseases.

Clearly, these athletes must be protected. But we all need to understand what we are going to do about it. Perhaps we should create a special category for them and put in place a separate system to account for their merits, points, seconds, and achievements. I am not sure yet, I have no answer to that question, but, clearly, we must think about it.

The Olympic Charter clearly states that the purpose of the Olympic movement is to serve the harmonious development of humankind, and promote a peaceful society. These objectives are paramount for international sport and the international sport movement. That is what we should be working towards, that is where we need to focus.

I wish all the forum participants productive and constructive work.

Thank you.

October 11, 2016, Vladimir Region