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Lukashenko: European Games in Belarus should help consolidate the nation

The European Games in Belarus should contribute to the further consolidation of the nation, Belarus President, President of the National Olympic Committee (NOC) Alexander Lukashenko said at the extended session of the NOC Executive Committee to discuss the 2019 European Games on 7 September, BelTA has learned.

An organizing committee led by the prime minister, various subcommittees, and the Directorate of the European Games have been set up. Various groups of experts, consultants already arrive in Belarus to discuss the preparations for the European Games in detail. The government regularly informs me that the work is underway, and we are moving in the right direction. But I am concerned about a number of issues. The main one is that the country still does not live in the spirit of the games. The coverage of the preparations for the European Games leaves much to be desired. I would like to listen to your reports on the progress in this field. I want to know when our citizens will start getting information about the progress in your work. The European Games is an important event which should give a strong ideological impulse to our society, contribute to the further consolidation of the nation, Alexander Lukashenko stressed.

The president recalled that Belarus was given the honorable right to host this sports event in 2019 almost a year ago. That was a proposal of the international sports community who commended the country's achievements in the development of sport, hosting various competitions and international events, including the 2014 IIHF World Championship which had been recognized as the best world championship in history. Belarus has been developing sports and other infrastructure for many years. Guests from all over the world arrive in Belarus with pleasure. The atmosphere of stability, tolerance, and, most importantly, security plays a big role in this. All that was taken into account too, the head of state said.

Belarus has thoroughly studied the proposals of the European Olympic Committees (EOC), has calculated future expenses. The government assured us that the expenses would be rather small - 35-40 million. We decided that we can lend a shoulder to the European Olympic family and host this event. The European Olympic Committees promised comprehensive assistance to us in the resolution of all kinds of issues, material and financial support. However, one should not think that we have done a favor to the European Olympic family. First of all, we are happy that the European Olympic Committees gave us the right to host this event, Alexander Lukashenko said. He remarked that enough time has passed since then to evaluate the progress in the preparations, discuss pending issues and outline future goals

The president remarked that the preparation of sport facilities and other objects is behind the schedule. What problems, for example, prevent you from commissioning Dinamo Stadium in Minsk in 2017 in accordance with a corresponding resolution of the president? Everyone understands perfectly well that we still need to test it as a venue for track-and-field events, prepare the opening and closing ceremonies of the Games. And today the government has submitted a proposal to prolong the renovation of the sports and shooting complex Uruchye till 31 December 2018. I do not even ask if it is late or not. My answer to all the questions is as follows: do not submit any rescheduling proposals to me. Everything should be done in accordance with the previously arranged schedule, Alexander Lukashenko instructed.

The head of state also focused on security issues. As the international situation shows, this is number one priority. There should not even be a shade of doubt regarding Belarus' security. The main thing is that there should be no self-complacency, the president stressed. We have enough ill-wishers who will try to dissuade us. God forbid if anything like the events in Western Europe happens here. We must be very vigilant. Sports events and festive atmosphere for our citizens and especially for our guests are the pillars of the Games. Visitors should get positive impressions of their stay in Belarus, in Minsk, and should take these impressions back home.

The president remarked that the agreement on hosting the Games had been already signed with the EOC. In his regard, he asked if the agreement had taken all the interests of the country into account. Have you solved the issues that we discussed in October 2016? Are there any pitfalls that will eventually cost us a pretty penny? the head of state asked. Please tell me what expenses we will have. Have you planned and calculated them? Is everything clear about the budget of the European Games? I would like to know about the state of affairs with the organization of TV broadcasting during the Games. What obligations did we take and what assistance will we get from international organizations?

Special attention was drawn to the training of Belarusian national teams in various sports. I hope we will not be ashamed of the performance of Belarusians, Alexander Lukashenko said. He added that the results of Belarus in certain sports are disastrous. Besides, the EOC promised that the 2019 European Games will be the qualifiers for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. What has been done in this field? the president wondered.

The head of state underlined that the success of the European Games in Belarus, the performance of the Belarusian athletes, the results they will show to Europe will influence the opinion about the country and its people for decades. Therefore, there are no minor things in the preparations for this biggest sports forum in Europe. All aspects, such as border crossing, hotel accommodation, catering services, city beautification should be organized in the best way possible. I want a direct and substantial discussion of the preparations for the 2019 European Games. I do not want reports for the sake of reports. I want to listen to your evaluation of the current situation and proposals. First of all, let's discuss the issues that should be solved at the level of the president, Alexander Lukashenko said.

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