"Participating in the Olympics is the right step in this historic period"

The Eastern Economic Forum has traditionally become a gathering place not only for government and business representatives, but also for sports officials who discuss the latest world events and determine where to go next.

The main question facing Russian athletes at the moment is whether anyone should go to the Olympics in Paris in 2024, since this time the number of representatives of the Russian Federation admitted to the competition will be very small. At the same time, they will have to perform in a neutral status: without a flag, anthem and possibly with some additional restrictions.

Vladimir Putin, discussing this issue at the WEF, did not put pressure on athletes with his position. But he noted: in this case, it is necessary to be guided primarily by their interests.

"Everyone who has been preparing for years, and some decades, must make certain decisions for themselves," the president stressed.

The Ministry of Sports is currently in dialogue with the IOC and federations to ensure the participation in the Olympics of those athletes who still have the opportunity to go to the Games.

"But in compliance with at least the minimum requirements and without crossing the "red line" - signing declarations, condemning the policies of the president and the government. We admit and hope that some of the athletes will perform. At this historical period, this is probably the right step, "said the Minister of Sports of the Russian Federation Oleg Matytsin.

At the same time, according to the official, international federations will soon understand the futility of the sanctions regime. But Russia should not wait for this to happen, but determine its own policy in the world of sports.

"Today, the priority for us should be to build a national calendar system, a competitive environment, infrastructure, staffing and the creation of new formats that we are already offering and will offer next year. We see that now a significant number of countries are showing interest in them and taking part, "TASS quoted Matytsin as saying.

"Distorted the idea of Pierre de Coubertin"

The main event of next year in Russia, it seems, will be the Friendship Games, which will be held in September in Moscow and Yekaterinburg. Assistant to the President of the Russian Federation Igor Levitin at the WEF said that it was decided to pay the winners of the tournament the same prize money as the medalists of the Olympic Games.

"Do you remember when we were not allowed to participate in the Olympics, we held the Friendship Games in the USSR? Everything is back to normal. This is not new to us. If a foreign athlete wins a prize, he will also receive payments as a prize-winner of the competition in Paris, "Match TV quotes Levitin as saying.

At the same time, the competition program, according to the general director of the organizing committee of the tournament Alexei Sorokin, will be expanded in the near future. Initially, it was planned to invite about 5 thousand athletes in 27 sports: 22 Olympic and 5 non-Olympic. The Chinese national team has already confirmed its participation.

"In many sports, the value of victory is questionable without Russian athletes. Synchronized swimming, rhythmic gymnastics, beach soccer and so on are where we are a solid foundation. It's nice to hear the state's position on this matter. We have to turn to new formats in order to get absolutely clean competitions. Therefore, there is the "Friendship Games" - an absolutely non-politicized, multi-sport tournament. The list of sports has not yet been closed, we are discussing with a number of federations, some more will join the program of the Games. There will be a significant prize pool. There are no restrictions on admission, except for the sports result, "Sorokin said.

As Vladimir Putin emphasized, the creation of an alternative movement to the Olympic one and the holding of such tournaments is an objective process, since international sports and the Olympic movement are degrading.

"I think the current leadership of the federations, the IOC itself, they distort the original idea of Pierre de Coubertin - sport should be out of politics. It should not divide, but unite people. Over the past decades, the Olympic movement has fallen into the trap of financial interests, there has been an unacceptable commercialization of international sports and the international Olympic movement," Putin said.

At the same time, in his opinion, the holding of the Friendship Games and the BRICS Games next year will kill the existing international structures.

"We need to update them, including personnel, so it's unfortunate that everything is happening like this. We, of course, will protect our athletes, create alternative opportunities for them, including the financial results of their achievements," Putin said at the plenary session of the WEF.

"Don't rush to Asia"

At the same time, the country continues to search for solutions with the admission of athletes to foreign tournaments, since alternative competitions will not affect all sports. And maintaining a high level of training of athletes is possible only in a competitive environment. And in this case, according to Matytsin, it is not necessary to massively move to Asian international organizations. Recall that this has already been done by the federations of chess and taekwondo.

"Here we need to proceed from what we lose and gain. If it is impossible now to develop further without participating in European competitions, then we need to look for a deeper and more formalized partnership with Asia. If it does not give anything, does not strengthen and does not bring anything, but only creates organizational barriers and difficulties, then we must wait and see how everything is implemented," the minister said.

Speaking about team sports, instead of heading for Asia, Matytsin proposes the creation of strong competitions within the country.

"I urge all federations not to look for a way out somewhere out there, beyond the borders of Russia. We have 89 regions, we have sports schools. Football, in particular, has a state program. Special thanks to the Russian Football Union, which is doing a lot of work with the school, student and youth leagues. With such a variety, with hundreds of thousands of students, who else do we need? Let's create our own league, powerful, in which we would also like to come and participate in it!

This applies not only to football, but also to all team sports, to all sports in general. We have a colossal resource, we just need to understand, evaluate and build a systematic work. And we will always be a reliable partner," the minister added.

However, first you need to help the department find sources of funding, since its budget has recently decreased. This was stated by the Acting Chairman of the Accounts Chamber Galina Izotova.

"Sometimes we give the Ministry of Sports a headache, but now we are partners. It is necessary to look for sources of funding, since the department has a small budget, just tears. And it's getting lower every year. We need to think over a roadmap," Izotova said.