Russia outlines plans for latest ‘Friendship Games’
Russia will welcome athletes from more than 20 countries when it hosts the ‘Friendship Games’ in the city of Kazan next month, Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Chernyshenko has said.
The games will be held from November 10 to 25, and will see more than 100 prizes handed out across a range of swimming and diving competitions.
The event comes as Russian athletes remain banned from a variety of international tournaments because of the conflict in Ukraine.
Russian officials, however, have compensated by organizing their own tournaments and have discussed strengthening sporting ties with nations in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SOC) and BRICS group, as well as elsewhere.
“On behalf of the president of Russia, Vladimir Putin, we are maintaining the level of competitive activity of our athletes,” said Chernyshenko as he discussed the ‘Friendship Games’ in a statement this week.
“The government has developed new formats for competitions in various sports with the participation of representatives of friendly countries.
“In November, the second stage of the International Friendship Games competition is scheduled to be held in Kazan.
“I would like to note that in comparison with the first stage, which took place in July-August this year, the geography of participants has expanded from 16 to 23 countries.
“Over 100 sets of awards will be distributed among 800 athletes. I am sure that hospitable Tatarstan will be delight athletes, coaches and fans with a worthy level of holding the games,” added Chernyshenko, who is an important sporting figure in his homeland and helped organize the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics.
The ‘Friendship Games’ will be held with the support of the Russian Sports Ministry, as well as the Ministry of Sports of the Republic of Tatarstan and a number of national sports federations.
Russian Sports Minister Oleg Matytsin praised the games as a way to “bring athletes together and underline our commitment to the principles of fair sport.”
“We always stand for international consolidation in sports and will continue to organize competitions of this format, as we see increased interest from athletes from other countries. The first stage of the games was successful, it brought together more than 1,000 athletes from different countries,” said Matytsin.
“I am sure that the second stage will be no less spectacular – sports fans will be able to watch the performances of the strongest Russian swimmers and divers and enjoy the atmosphere of the competition. And Kazan will once again confirm the status of a hospitable sports center of our country.”
Kazan boasts high-level swimming facilities, with the city’s Palace of Water Sports built for the 2013 World Summer Universiade. The venue has hosted other major international tournaments, including the 2015 FINA World Championships and World Cup events.
Russian swimmers are among those to currently be sidelined from global events following a recommendation by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) at the end of February.
Russian athletes and officials have criticized the bans as discriminatory and allowing sport to be undermined by politics, although IOC president Thomas Bach recently claimed it was “not the time” to lift the sanctions.
In place of international competitions, Russia has organized its own showpieces such as the ‘We are Together – Sport’ event for the nation’s Paralympians, and the ‘Spartakiad’ games which ran across numerous sports during the summer.