Meeting with IAAF President Sebastian Coe

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There should not be excessive politics in sport, Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko said as he met with President of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) Sebastian Coe on 8 April.

“Athletes from large and rich countries should not be the only winners. All athletes should be equal. Therefore, I am totally against any closed topics in sport, including doping issues. I am against solving issues with the help of money because a rich country will win. There should be more justice in sport,” the head of state said.

“If we are fair in sport, I am confident that Belarusian athletes will make themselves even more noticed on the global arena, the Olympic Games. I tell this because I know your stance and commitment to honesty in sport. You can rely on Belarus in this respect,” Aleksandr Lukashenko added.

Aleksandr Lukashenko praised the fact that there are excellent specialists in the world track and field athletics. “Many functionaries in various sports lack this understanding, the understanding of an athlete. I think that such people like you, former athletes showing excellent results, can make a difference in sport,” the President said.

The President remarked that the visit of Sebastian Coe to Belarus and the events connected with this visit are very important for the Belarusian side. “We see it as a sign of respect, it gives us hope for the future cooperation,” the Belarusian leader concluded.

According to Aleksandr Lukashenko, Belarus’ sport infrastructure will be able to host any international competitions in athletics starting from 2017. “We have been modernizing our national stadium with the focus on athletics. It will be good for football, but it will be a track and field stadium with an additional training field and all necessary facilities and equipment for training,” the Belarusian leader said.

Aleksandr Lukashenko noted that although Belarus is not among the world’s great powers but it is the country with its own sport traditions. “We have good schools that we preserved from the Soviet times. We still lack some persistence and perhaps attention. We have enough specialists in any sport, but we lack organization and complete commitment to high standards from coaches and athletes. It would be worse if we lacked money or skills. Everything else can be helped,” the President noted.

The head of state also recalled the times when Sebastian Coe was part of sport competitions. “I remember my youth and Sebastian Coe on the race track whom I did not support of course as next to you there always were our great athletes. But I have always admired you,” Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed.

Sebastian Coe, in turn, stressed that politicians can be divided into two groups: those who understand sport and those who do not. “It is a pleasure to meet with such a high-ranking official who not only understands sport very well but also understands athletics. It is also good that we have similar opinions about the role of sport,” he said.

Sebastian Coe thanked Aleksandr Lukashenko for the attention to pays to the preservation and promotion of track and field athletics, the creation of infrastructure. He also expressed readiness to do his best to help Belarus regularly host international track and field competitions.

The participants of the meeting discussed the initiative to host the American-European track and field match in 2019. It is possible that this event will be held in Belarus.