45th General Assembly of the European Olympic Committees

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Belarus is ready to host the 2019 European Games, Belarus President, President of the National Olympic Committee Aleksandr Lukashenko said at the 45th General Assembly of the European Olympic Committees (EOC) in Minsk on 21 October.

The head of state stressed that Belarus will do its best to hold this high-profile competition in a friendly atmosphere and to create comfortable conditions for athletes and fans. “It should be done in a way to create ideal conditions for athletes who will do their utmost to show great results. Besides, this competition should be a celebration for fans, it should unite all people in the host country and in the world in general,” the Aleksandr Lukashenko is convinced.

“Belarus will do everything to host this competition in a friendly atmosphere. We will do it in a way that you will never regret the decision to hold the European Games in Belarus,” the President stressed.

Aleksandr Lukashenko said that sport without borders and visa restrictions should be one of the priorities in the EOC. “We suggest that the EOC compile an annual European calendar of such international sports events. We need to relax, as much as possible, or even cancel visa requirements and customs formalities for their participants, athletes and fans. This will help us attract a much bigger audience,” the head of state said.

The EOC needs to develop a program of additional education for retired athletes. This was one of the initiatives of the Belarusian side. The President suggested developing a system of grants so that retired athletes could start a business. Especially it is important for children’s sports schools and clubs.

Aleksandr Lukashenko paid special attention to the issue of doping. “Belarus welcomes the efforts of the International Olympic Committee to reform the world anti-doping system,” he said.

The operation of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) should be more transparent, the involvement of more countries in the process will help prevent many violations and raise the efficiency of work, the President stressed. “Belarus stands for clean sport. But collective responsibility is not the best option. Suspending entire teams from the Olympics is unjustified and counterproductive,” Aleksandr Lukashenko is convinced. “The punishment for violations should be selective and unavoidable rather than generalized and hasty. The protection of the rights of honest athletes should be a priority.”

Aleksandr Lukashenko also expressed support to Patrick Hickey who had been the President of the European Olympic Committees until recently and was accused of certain violations.

“Belarus stands in solidarity with the Executive Committee of the EOC and sees the charges against Patrick Hickey as unfounded,” the Belarusian leader said. The head of state stressed, “Sometimes we see smear campaigns waged against the most active functionaries, who not only have their own opinion but are ready to voice it at any time. No one will be able to silence us. We should voice our opinion on all matters openly, honestly and firmly. Together we will be able to defend any of our friends and colleagues.”

Aleksandr Lukashenko also met with a number of sports functionaries.

At the meeting with Acting President of the European Olympic Committees Janez Kocijancic the head of state stressed that the EOC can always count on Belarus. “Belarus is not a superpower. But we pay a lot of attention to sport,” the Belarusian leader noted. “I want our European organization to be as good as the organizations on other continents and the International Olympic Committee. In this regard I am a nationalist and a patriot.”

“Should the EOC wish to hold any event in Belarus, we are ready to support our organization at any moment,” the President assured.

Belarus will use Azerbaijan’s experience to gear up for the 2019 European Games, Aleksandr Lukashenko said as he met with Chingiz Huseynzade, Vice President of the National Olympic Committee of Azerbaijan.

The Belarusian side also counts on the support and active interaction with Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah, President of the Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC), President of the Olympic Council of Asia, a member of the International Olympic Committee.

“You have proposed a very good thing, and, if possible, I would like to use the opportunity to resume our vigorous contacts at the interstate level,” the Belarusian leader said at the meeting with the Sheikh. “If you want Belarus to take a more active part in the sports movement, in the economy and, perhaps, in business, we are ready to support you in this regard and to support the states that you will recommend. This is the pragmatism of our meeting.”

President of the National Olympic Committee of Armenia Gagik Tsarukyan joined the meeting in a while. He gave a present from the Armenian NOC to the Belarusian head of state on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the Belarusian NOC and the 2019 European Games in Belarus. He also wished Belarus to host the Olympic Games in the future.

Aleksandr Lukashenko received a number of presents at the 45th EOC General Assembly. He was awarded with the AIBA Order of Merit. The award is presented to heads of state for their contribution to the popularization of the sports and Olympic movement and also for the recognition of their dedication and commitment to the development of the sport at the international and national levels.

Chingiz Huseynzade presented the Olympic Order to the Belarusian leader.

Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah awarded the Order of the Association of National Olympic Committees to the Belarusian President.