Aleksandr Lukashenko attends opening ceremony of 2014 IIHF World Championship in Minsk

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The ice hockey world championship in Minsk has become the largest national project. Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko made the statement at the opening ceremony of the 2014 IIHF World Championship in Minsk on 9 May.

“We have been working for five years to bring about this event. The championship has indeed become the largest national project. The entire country has taken an active part in preparing and implementing the project. We are sincerely glad to welcome the tournament in Belarus,” the President said.

The head of state remarked that the sport arenas that had been created meet the highest international standards. Massive efforts have been put into accommodation for the comfortable recreation of Minsk residents and guests. “In other words, everything has been done to make the ice hockey world championship in Minsk vivid, remarkable and the best in the world,” the Belarusian leader stressed.

“We’ve had to overcome a lot of difficulties: blackmail, political pressure on the part of certain forces, which are prejudiced towards Belarus. Luckily sound sense and respect for sport values have prevailed. Players, who are legends and stars on the global scale, have come here as part of the world’s strongest ice hockey teams,” the Belarusian leader noted.

The President thanked the International Ice Hockey Federation and its partners for support and praised the principled position of IIHF President René Fasel.

“I am convinced that representatives of the ice hockey federation, players of the teams, and fans will properly appreciate everything they see here. The sport infrastructure that has been created over the years will help increase the number of people, who go in for sports, and will help improve the health of Belarusians. It is also important that we have gained the invaluable experience of organizing such large-scale sport events,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

According to the President, modern ice hockey is, first of all, an alloy of will and sports mastery, courageous and risky game at the end of tether which can put genuine fans in incredible delight.

Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed that the championship was opened on a special day — Victory Day. “In that fierce war we fought together with the United States of America. Together we fought against the brown plague, against Nazism. Today we will be divided by the red line on this piece of ice. May we stay separated in our lives only in sports,” the Belarusian leader emphasized.

Before the opening ceremony Aleksandr Lukashenko talked to players of the Belarusian team. The President wished them success in the game and the tournament as a whole.

“We do not expect you to bite more than you can chew. Don’t do that. Do the best you can. It is not the end of the world when the team loses. That’s a shame when the team is lacking willpower, when it gives up. Don’t give up, fight till the very end regardless of the score,” the President said.

“Play the best you can. Perhaps, you should try even better because it the world championship. I think, no one will have a chance to play at another domestic world championship. Your relatives and friends will root for you. Therefore, you must show your game,” the head of state added.