Report on certain issues related to development of sports
Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko heard out a report on certain issues related to the development of sports.
Attending the meeting with the President were Sport and Tourism Minister Sergei Kovalchuk, Deputy Head of the Belarus President Administration Igor Lutsky, Deputy Prime Minister Igor Petrishenko, President of the National Olympic Committee Viktor Lukashenko.
“Here are the people who are responsible for the development of sport in our country. Yet, I sometimes wonder: what to develop here? What else is needed in order for our teams, our athletes to perform at the highest level? During this meeting, I would like to hear from you what is missing, what sports grounds, facilities and other things do you need to win 20-30 medals at the Olympics. We used to do that when we had no sports facilities at all,” the President said.
He stressed that everything is in place in Belarus to discover and nurture talent, to determine in what sport a child can excel the most. “Rhythmic gymnastics, artistic gymnastics, athletics ... Please, choose. Coaches spot someone and take them under their wing. What else do you need? If we have to pay for good, high results, say how much? But first, show the necessary results,” the head of state emphasized.
“The World Cup is on. Sergei Mikhailovich [Kovalchuk], I somehow didn’t spot our football players there. Or am I just missing something?” the head of state asked with irony and reproach. “They are nowhere near. Moreover, I compare the performance of our football players with the football played at the World Cup today. More than that, these players are demonstrating such results in winter. And as a former football player who played a lot of football, I just get scared,” he said.
“This sport, like many others, is in dire straits in our country. When I was appointing you [Sport and Tourism Minister Sergei Kovalchuk], I hoped that you, as a military man who loves and knows sport, will turn things around. There is nothing to say about the deputy prime minister. He seems not to be involved in it as well as other areas of social sphere. Now that the time has passed, many years have passed (and if one year counts for two, then it is a lot of time), so where are these results?” the Belarusian leader asked.
In this regard, he drew attention to the performance of FC Dinamo-Minsk. “What medals has it won this year [in Belarus’ championship]? Nothing, wooden medals. Well, you don’t need any money to win wooden medals. And you are responsible for this team. I instructed you to take care of it, and I gave you money,” said the head of state.
Aleksandr Lukashenko also asked if Belarusian athletes, along with Russian ones, would be allowed to participate in the next Olympic Games. He was told that no final decision was taken on this matter yet. “Yet, you say in all the media that everyone will be able to perform, though without the flag, without the anthem,” the President noted.
“This is also your area of responsibility. Therefore, we must get ready,” the head of state emphasized.
Returning to the topic of sanctions the domestic sport is subjected to, Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed that if they put pressure on you, then you need to strive to show even better results: “And you tell me about sanctions. If you are pressured, you should push back even harder in sport, that is how I see it. If people know that they are unfairly punished, they go all out and show even better results. Do we do it? We don’t. How come, the more we invest in a sport, the less we get?”
“Let’s take the national stadium [National Football Stadium]. It will be commissioned soon. Who will play there?” the head of state said citing an example.
“It is bad that they have to compete without state symbols (flag, anthem and other things). But it's not a disaster. True athletes, not the ones who fled abroad and who have not improved their performance since then, keep the flag and anthem in their hearts. This is how it should be if you are true athletes. They compete primarily for people. Not only for themselves but for people, their family, children, who will follow in their footsteps in the future. Money and other benefits are less important," the Belarusian leader stressed.
Aleksandr Lukashenko demanded answers to these questions, since they are related to another topic of the report - the bill on measures to stimulate good performance in sport. “You came to me asking for salaries and incentives for athletes. Listen, such topic has to be discussed secretly somewhere in a dark corner so that people will not hear. If they do, not only you will come in for heavy criticism (at least you deserve it), but also I will. People will ask: What are you paying them money for?! They [athletes] play football, hockey or some other skating [sports] - speed skating, short track like they are half-dead. Therefore, I want to hear what you have to offer,” the President said.
Aleksandr Lukashenko wanted to see the government’s concept of financial incentives for athletes for achieving results.
“If you say that we need to support athletes, I am on board with it. Yet, this pertains only to those athletes who show world-class results. Is it so hard to compare your performance in the 100-meter dash with the best results at another world championship? This should be a benchmark. If one shows a high result at the level of first, second, third place, this person will be able to claim commensurate benefits, subsidies, and so on,” the President said.
The President recalled the upcoming 2023 CIS Games. “This will be a test for you, the most serious criterion,” the Belarusian leader warned. “If you fail at the second Games, I’ll tell you frankly, you have nothing to do in sports,” the head of state said.