Aleksandr Lukashenko hears out report on situation during 2014 IIHF WM in Minsk

    President of the Republic of Belarus Aleksandr Lukashenko heard out a report on the situation during the 2014 IIHF World Championship in Minsk on 19 May.

    The head of state was interested, first of all, in the issues related to security, healthcare provision and Team Belarus prospects at the ongoing tournament.

    Prime Minister Mikhail Myasnikovich said that there are no problems with the accommodation of participants and guests of the tournament, food supply, healthcare, transport. In his words, all necessary decisions are made promptly depending on the situation.

    Hotels operate at the 56-60% capacity. However, the main inflow of guests is expected by the end of the tournament this week when the final stage of the competition kicks off. Over 90% of beds in Minsk hotels have been booked for this period.

    The situational department was established at the Interior Department of the Minsk City Council. It includes representatives of law enforcement bodies, healthcare and transport services, the Emergencies Ministry. Other specialists work in airports, bus and railway stations, hospitality zones.

    Aleksandr Lukashenko also drew attention to the provision of healthcare services for the guests of the world’s sporting forum. “We allowed foreign citizens to enter Belarus without health insurance, which means we have undertaken all health expenses if such help is needed. How are things here? Have foreign nationals needed any medical assistance? What is the feedback?” the President wondered.

    According to the Prime Minister, only emergency medical aid was provided.

    According to First Deputy Healthcare Minister Dmitry Pinevich, 138 people, including 24 ice hockey players, requested medical assistance.

    Similarly, the head of state asked about the security situation, about the work of the police and other special services.

    Chairman of the Minsk City Council Nikolai Ladutko informed about the organization of hospitality zones. In his words, these zones are popular among tourists and Minsk residents. The Minsk Mayor also said there were no complaints about the availability of food products and their quality. Complaints about working hours of cafes along Pobeditelei Avenue and Nezavisimosti Avenue have been addressed. No complaints about Belarusian beer have been received.

    “Use this moment with the beer to get people accustomed to Belarusian products,” noted the head of state.

    Nikoali Ladutko also informed about the program that will be staged in the hospitality zone near the SportsPalace on the night of 25-26 May after the final game.

    Aleksandr Lukashenko drew attention to economic considerations. In his opinion, it is necessary to grab the opportunity to sell as many Belarusian products as possible, more so since they are in demand.

    The President also asked Minsk residents to put up with inconveniences for a week if there are any. “If we have decided to host the event, I would like to ask Minsk residents to put up with it, only one week of inconvenience is left to go,” he said.

    “It represents great experience of the organization of similar events. We have to polish all the details. We should learn from it,” noted the head of state.

    The operation of the so-called fan zones as places for shopping and recreation should be downsized but the places should stay open after the championship. “I think retailers will be interested in keeping the fan zones open. It is necessary to enable conditions and preserve them. Moreover, Minsk’s experience should be borrowed by other cities for the benefit of the home market,” Aleksandr Lukashenko remarked.

    The President was also interested in Team Belarus prospects at the ongoing tournament.

    “As you know, today Belarus plays a crucial match against Latvia,” said Aleksandr Lukashenko. "If we lose, it means we will complicate things for ourselves and will possibly finish our performance at this world championship, and we will ruin what we have done, and dampen the spirits of our people,” the head of state said.

    “In general, we have to do our best today. There is no other way,” the President concluded.

    Head of the 2014 ice hockey world championship organizing committee, Chairman of the Ice Hockey Federation of Belarus Yevgeny Vorsin mentioned the good readiness of the Belarusian team. “I feel their confidence. It is particularly satisfying. Motivation is very good, the players understand well that it is the only chance for the team to get into the quarterfinals,” he said.

    Yevgeny Vorsin also mentioned the excellent organization starting with the services in the airport and ending with the ice arenas. “No complaints about the organizing committee or the country. The championship is praised across the board. But serious events are still ahead of us,” he said.

    The head of state was told that 46 matches had been attended by 436,000 spectators. The overall number of fans present at all the games is supposed to exceed 600,000. Ticket earnings are close to Br150 billion.

    Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed that there should be no vacant seats during such events particularly when there are people willing to attend them.

    “I told Rene Fasel yesterday that we don’t keep people in the street if free seats are available and they want to see the match. It is a historic moment for them!” the head of state remarked.

    The President drew attention to the good organization, yet stressed that the main games of the championship are still to happen.

    “Do not relax because the main days are ahead of us. There may be a handful of them but these are the main days and ardent fans and specialists will come for these days,” the head of state said. “Therefore, any wrinkles must be ironed out. We cannot tolerate an excessive increase in prices because everything can be spoilt in the last few days like that,” he added.