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Belarus confident China will host Beijing 2022 at the highest level

Xinhua | Updated: 2021-06-10 10:09
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National Speed Skating Oval. [Photo provided to]

MINSK - Belarus is confident that China will hold the upcoming Olympic Winter Games at the highest level, Belarusian Sports and Tourism Minister Sergey Kovalchuk told Xinhua in an exclusive interview.

"Today, the way China is fighting the pandemic can become an example for the whole world. I am confident that China will cope with all the tasks that are entrusted while planning and organizing the Olympic Games.

"China has ample experience. All the competitions in China are held at the highest level including ensuring the safety of both citizens of their country and all athletes who will be at this time in Beijing. We do not even have doubts about whether to send our Belarusian athletes to the Olympics in Beijing. They will definitely go to these Olympic Games," Kovalchuk said.

Kovalchuk also praised China's efforts to develop winter sports and the results achieved by Chinese athletes.

"I am delighted with the dynamic that China shows in the development of some winter sports. You didn't have any hockey team 10-15 years ago, but today the Chinese hockey team Kunlun Star plays in the Continental Hockey League. And it plays quite well, and most of the hockey players are Chinese athletes.

"If we talk about biathlon, 15-20 years ago, Chinese athletes were probably not even close at the World Championships or World Cup stages, but today we see that Chinese become prize-winners of major international competitions, including stages of the World Cup. By the way, Chinese biathletes also came to our country for the Open Championship of Belarus," he said.

Kovalchuk highlighted the constantly growing level of training of athletes in China. "Chinese athletes are traditionally strong in short track speed skating, they are also very competitive in freestyle. Chinese athletes in figure skating are included in the elite pool. China is competing for prizes at the World Championships and other prestigious competitions," he said.

Commenting on the fact that some Western officials politicize sports and try to disrupt the preparations and holding of the Winter Olympics in Beijing, Kovalchuk stressed that Belarus supports China at all levels.

"Today a politician is the person who must try to unite people by any means, build correct communications, fight for peace, fight for friendly relations between countries. The politicians who are trying to lobby their interests through sports, dividing the sports communities, are weak politicians, short-sighted. Such politicians have nothing to do in this area of activity," he stressed.

Those politicians who try to drive a wedge into relationships between people using sports as a tool of pressure, will not achieve their goal, he noted.

Nowadays Belarusian athletes are preparing for the 2022 Winter Games, the minister said. "Belarus implements the last stage of preparation taking into account the experience of training athletes in many sports. The selection of athletes has been carried out in many sports: biathlon, figure skating, short track, speed skating," he said.

"A hockey qualifying tournament is also planned in summer. These are our traditional sports. We have the right to expect decent results at the Beijing Olympics at these sports," he said.

Belarus pin its medal hopes in freestyle ski, biathlon and speed skating. "Belarusian athletes won awards at six Winter Olympics in freestyle. Belarus has a strong enough biathlon. These are probably two sports that we will count on and hope that they will show a medal result. But we see that today, taking into account the work of the coaches, our skaters also show good seconds on the world stage. Our skiers are also capable of showing decent results under certain conditions. We hope primarily for sprinters," he said.

The minister said Belarus should perform at least no worse than at the last Olympics. "If we perform at the Beijing Olympics at the same level as at the previous Olympics, then I think we will be able to adequately compete with the leading world sports powers and claim the podium," he added.

The minister sees good prospects for cooperation with China in the field of sports.

"Considering that Belarus also has some success in winter sports, we could join forces at the preparatory stage. We have excellent bases for training athletes. Our bases are open and ready to receive athletes in many sports. For example, in martial arts ... in rowing and canoeing as well," he said.

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