Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko demands better performance from Belarusian athletes. He made the statement at the Olympic Assembly of the National Olympic Committee of Belarus on 30 May.
“Sport is a crucial branch of the national economy. It should be productive and yield results. We are not that rich to waste money. The situation requires efforts to improve this sector, eradicate negative factors impeding the efficient use of money,” the Belarusian leader said.
Alexander Lukashenko is convinced that there are many talented people in Belarus who can become elite athletes. “Over the period of independence we have demonstrated that we have talented people,” he said. “It is needed to work. We will support athletes depending on the results. Otherwise, it is physical education. We will build facilities if they are in demand and if people come there,” the head of state said.
Speaking about the previous Olympic cycle and the situation in sport, Alexander Lukashenko not only mentioned existing problems but also spoke about certain positive things. “There were many good things. It is great that Belarus is one of the top 20 sports countries in the world, it is even one of the top 10 countries in certain sports. These are big achievements, and they mean a lot,” the Belarusian leader noted.
He stressed that the country managed to preserve the state system of supporting physical education and sport. “In spite of all difficulties, we continue to build and renovate sports facilities not only in the capital city but also in all regions,” the President said.
In his words, a healthy life style also becomes more and more popular with people.
The economic component of sport has stabilized. Belarus’ NOC has acquired financial stability and strengthened its authority in the international arena.
“Our country has become one of the sports centers in Eurasia hosting international competitions of the highest level at its stadiums. In two years Belarus will host the European Games, the IIHF World Championship will take place in our country in 2021,” the President noted.
Alexander Lukashenko remarked that sport is also part of big politics, there were attempts to put pressure on countries and prevent Belarus from hosting international competitions. “However, in this situation we have managed to turn the events around and get the right to host very serious competitions, even the European Games and the IIHF World Championship within a short period of time,” he said.
The head of state said that everything is done for athletes in Belarus, but the results could be better. A number of unsolved issues still exist in the industry. “Unfortunately, sport which is a crucial ideological instrument of the state policy did not become the source of national pride and inspiration for Belarusians,” the President said.
Alexander Lukashenko spoke about the performance of Belarusian athletes at various international competitions, including the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. In spite of the achievements in certain sports, the situation in general could be better. “The team’s performance was a total failure,” the President stressed.
“We had a government conference with our athletes and the best specialists before the departure to the Olympics. Back then they did not have any claims, did not say that they lack anything for the successful performance of athletes,” the head of state said.
He said that it is inadmissible to work out any plans of financing without the real evaluation of chances.
In his speech the President enumerated key priorities of improvement in sport. These include ten main objectives.
First, it is essential to determine promising sports where Belarusians can win and support these sports. “If they get Olympic berths, the size of support will be increased. If they claim medals, we will give more money,” Alexander Lukashenko said.
Second, serious improvement is need in the youth and junior sport. The President stressed that it is the main priority. And a systematic approach is needed here. He instructed local authorities to solve the problem with the provision of sports gear to sports school within a year.
Another area of focus is student sport. It should be the pillar for professional sport in Belarus. In this regard, the Education Minister was instructed to pay serious attention to this field and step up interaction with sports agencies and organizations.
Fourth, it is needed to optimize the system of training of coaches. “We have to pay huge money to foreign coaches. I am not against using someone else’s best practices. They can work as consultants. But there should be Belarusian specialists around them,” the Belarusian leader said.
“We need an integrated system of continuous training and professional advancement for coaches,” the head of state said. “Your task is to look for young athletes who can become excellent coaches.”
Fifth, it is essential to optimize the work of Olympic training centers. The Ministry of sport should supervise the process of training of national teams.
Such areas as sports science and medicine are also important. According to President, problems are solved too slowly there. “I should not explain to you that it is impossible to achieve serious results without high-quality medical and scientific coverage today,” Alexander Lukashenko said. “We should use the potential of the Healthcare Ministry in full and, of course, that athletes need an individual approach.”
Seventh, it is needed to learn to resist groundless pressure when national teams are accused of doping. “Please realize that every doing scandal involving Belarus is not considered as an isolated incident any more. There are attempts to build a system. Look what happened with Russia. It means that we should be clever, more transparent to prove that our athletes are clean,” Alexander Lukashenko said.
The head of state reminded that Belarusian weightlifters and rowers had been accused of doping. The rowers had been denied participation in the Rio Olympics. “They could have won medals there. Knowing the overall situation, we should have acted to forestall such an outcome. Some of the complaints of the International Olympic Committee have been neutralized but it turns out that on the global scale the sport federations are not ready to protect themselves. They know neither international procedures nor what they have to do in an emergency. We talked about it during the previous conference,” the President noted.
“Nobody needs proof these days. They need only pretense. The policy of punishments first and investigations later is in use,” Alexander Lukashenko pointed out. “At last there is the simple lack of discipline. Our problems in rowing and taekwondo have a lot to do with complacency and slackness. Our athletes travel abroad for training and fail to follow basic safety rules.”
The head of state also instructed to strengthen the role of regions on the training of athletes. In his words, local authorities play a big role in the development of sport. If governors are interested in this field, it will be developing. If there is support of regions, new starts will emerge. Otherwise, an aspiring athlete will change the place of residence or even give up on sport, Alexander Lukashenko said.
It is also important to coordinate construction plans with the concept of developing sport in the country. Besides, it is needed to use sports facilities as intended. The Ministry of Sport was instructed to take these issues under control.
Apart from that, sports federations should step up their work. “I would like to mention a special role of the National Olympic Committee as a major sports public organization in the country. I would like to stress that the NOC should be the home for everybody. It should provide methodological, financial and other assistance to federations, solve pending issues quickly and efficiently,” Alexander Lukashenko said.
The head of state stressed that a new efficient system has not been developed yet. “This is the task for the near future. If we do not solve all these issues we will lose elite sport,” he said.
During the Olympic Assembly the head of state heard out a number of reports of heads of sports organizations and federations. Certain issues on the agenda were solved as well.
Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko was reelected President of the National Olympic Committee of Belarus. Alexander Lukashenko’s candidacy was proposed by USSR Honored Master of Sports, Olympic champion in kayak and canoe, Honored Figure of Physical Education and Sports, Honored Coach of Belarus Sergei Makarenko. The first vice president, vice presidents, and members of the NOC Executive Committee were elected as well.
“I have decided and I promise that extended sessions of the NOC Executive Committee under the auspices of the president will take place every three months,” Alexander Lukashenko said.
Apart from that, the president will take part in the annual final meeting of the National Olympic Committee. It will focus on the most topical and urgent issues. One of them is money spending.
The head of state stressed that the optimization should cover every sector. The president suggested that the NOC should cut its expenditure by 25%. “Optimization processes are underway throughout the country. The effort to optimize the state machinery is nearing completion. At this stage we seek to cut expenditure by 25%. This is the purpose of optimization. It is not only about the personnel reduction,” the President noted.
Another proposal is to review the report of the audit commission of the Belarusian National Olympic Committee. “Please take a look at the revenues and expenses parts once again. I would like you and the Belarus President Administration to analyze their expenses,” Alexander Lukashenko said.
Corresponding proposals were supported by the participants of the Olympic Assembly.
According to the head of state, sport has made Belarus well-known worldwide. The country gets to host the most prestigious competitions. In 2019 Belarus will host the Second European Games. “I will reiterate that the European Games should be held at the highest level. Equally important is to provide good results in front of the domestic audience,” Alexander Lukashenko said.
According to the President, Minsk will also host the General Assembly of the European Olympic Committees in 2018. “The forum should be held at a high level. We will invite all NOC members as guests. This will contribute to a positive image of Belarus in Europe and worldwide. We need to show Europeans our readiness to host the Games, and also showcase our facilities and infrastructure. We will also be happy to get advice from our colleagues who have a wealth of experience in hosting larges-scale events,” he noted.