Aleksandr Lukashenko holds official send-off for Belarusian athletes to London Olympic Games

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Victories at the Olympic Games demonstrate a country’s development achievements, President of the Republic of Belarus Aleksandr Lukashenko said at the official farewell ceremony for Belarusian sportsmen on the way to the Summer Olympic Games in London.

“A triumph of a sportsman transforms the perception of a country by the international community and enhances its image. This is a testimony to a country’s development achievements,” the President said.

The head of state emphasized that it is not just about personal sports attainments, which is also very important though. “In London you will compete for the sake of the prestige of your country. This prestige will be determined by your position on a pedestal. After all, sport is the highest level diplomacy,” the Belarusian leader said.

Aleksandr Lukashenko reminded that Belarusian athletes performed quite decently in Beijing four years ago. Although they failed to reach the targets, they won two dozen medals. This propelled Belarus to the top twenty global sports countries. “You have a new, very tough exam ahead. I am convinced that all the attendees understand full well what a great mission they are entrusted with. They are people who know the meaning of the word “patriotism”, the head of state said.

Addressing the athletes, the President noted that every time they compete, they are closely watched and supported not only by their family, but also all fellow countrymen, friends and foes, rivals from all over the world. “We set the major tasks for the forthcoming Olympic Games at a special meeting. I know that it will be incredibly hard to fulfill them. The competition will be very tough, at the limit of human ability. However, I am convinced that you will be able to demonstrate excellent performance. After all, our team features some of the best athletes of today. These are Yekaterina Karsten for whom the London Olympics will be the fifth Olympic Games in her carrier, Victoria Azarenka, Olympic champions Roman Petrushenko and Vadim Makhnev, Olympic prize holders Ivan Tikhon, Nadezhda Ostapchuk, Anastasia Novikova and many more. Many members of our sports delegation have Olympic experience,” the President said.

Aleksandr Lukashenko noted that for the first time in the modern history Belarus was the only former USSR republic whose junior sports team won the toughest competition to earn the right to take part in the Olympic Games.

“I would like you to understand that anything can happen in sports, not only in Olympic Games. A person prepares all the reserves he or she has for Olympic Games. Therefore, only victory is possible. Victory is the most important thing, not participation. It is the instruction I give you on behalf of the Belarusian nation,” the head of state stressed.

Aleksandr Lukashenko said he wanted the Olympic team to perform decently, to do what they can while leaving worries behind. “You should learn to safeguard yourselves against excessive pressure,” the President said.

He also underlined that he treasures every success of sportsmen and performance of coaches. “The state has done everything for you. Win these awards and all the doors, including the door to the president, will be opened before you in our country,” Aleksandr Lukashenko added.

The head of state also presented state awards to the athletes in recognition of their high professionalism and outstanding sports achievements. The Order of Homeland III Class was conferred on tennis player Victoria Azarenka. The honorary title "Honored Coach of the Republic of Belarus" was presented to the coach of the Olympic football team Georgy Kondratyev.

Victoria Azarenka presented the President her tennis racket.

T he flag bearer of the 29th Summer Olympic Games, Alexander Romankov, handed over the national flag to the Aleksandr Lukashenko. The President presented the national flag to the captain of the Olympic team Yekaterina Karsten.

Aleksandr Lukashenko wished everyone good luck. “Remember that you are bringing glory to Belarus,” the head of state emphasized.