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BRICS Sports Games kick off in Russia

By REN QI in Kazan, Russia | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2024-06-14 09:08
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Chinese participants are seen ahead of the opening ceremony of the BRICS Sports Games in Kazan on Wednesday. SOFYA SANDURSKAYA/TASS

Thousands of athletes will be vying for medals in the Russian city of Kazan at the sixth BRICS Sports Games, an international competition that kicked off on Wednesday amid Russia's exclusion from some sports events.

"The role of BRICS in global affairs grows rapidly," said Russian President Vladimir Putin in a video address at the opening ceremony of the Games.

"The Sports Games under the aegis of our organization are part of the comprehensive political, economic and humanitarian cooperation."

Since the launch of the special military operation in Ukraine, Russia has been frozen out of some prominent international competitions and sports associations. Some Russian passport holders will be allowed to compete as neutral athletes in the Paris Olympics that begin on July 26, but their results will not be credited to Russia.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Chernyshenko said earlier that Russia has always adhered to the principle that sport is beyond politics, "but we are constantly drawn into the politics, because they understand the importance of sport in the lives of our Russian people".

Putin expressed his certainty that the popularity and attractiveness of the Games as a competition free from political interference and pressure, which truly unites athletes from all over the world, will also grow.

"Especially considering that this is the first time the BRICS Games take place in an open format, which means that the games will become yet another symbol of the expanding intercultural dialogue, a significant contribution to the strengthening of the friendship between nations and a fruitful cooperation between states in the interest of the people and universal development," Putin said.

Athletes from nearly 100 countries will be participating in the Games, Russian Sports Minister Mikhail Degtyarev said. This year's games will be held from June 12 to 23.

"Our objective is to ensure that all countries have the opportunity to compete without discrimination and politicization as well as to create equal conditions for everyone and follow the traditions of sports," Degtyarev said.

More than 190 athletes from China will participate in the Games this year. The inaugural BRICS Games were held in June 2017 in Guangzhou. Athletes vied for medals in sports such as men's basketball and women's volleyball.

The games this year have now expanded to 27 sports, including fencing, synchronized swimming, judo, wrestling and sambo.

There will also be competitions in two "phygital" sports — soccer and basketball — that combine physical matchups along with play on video screens.

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