‘We’ve opened the schools, we’re preparing for Games of CIS Countries’

The republic’s sport is coming out of “coronavirus” hibernation

‘We’ve opened the schools, we’re preparing for Games of CIS Countries’
Photo: tatarstan.ru

On the eve of the Athlete’s Day held on second Saturday in August, Sports Minister Vladimir Leonov had a briefing with journalists in the Field Hockey Centre. Realnoe Vremya talks about Tatarstan’s plans for hosting the biggest competition and the republican sports schools that have already opened.

“The news about the return of sports schools to venues is great”

The Field Hockey Centre was to be the busiest sports venue in summer 2020. The EuroHockey U18 Youth Championships whose medallists were to be known on 18 July, men and women’s national championship was going to take place late in July even with the postponement. The coronavirus annihilated all this, this is why the sports venue is now empty. However, head of the sports ministry Vladimir Leonov’s news about the opening of all sports schools on 4 August was to revive the “patriarchal silence” of COVID days.

“We should go back to normal interaction, work, and the news about the return of sports schools to venues is amazing today. It is also very important for the growing generation, for lads because there were received a lot of petitions. I congratulate you on this occasion,” the minister illustrated this message with a broad smile.

Vladimir Leonov said about the opening of all sports schools on 4 August. Photo: Ilya Repin

Leonov specified that the Tatarstan Sports Ministry’s order on the resumption of the operation of sports school would soon appear on the website of the ministry, and it would explain all restrictions coaches and athletes must respect. Of course, such decisions are approved by both the republican anti-coronavirus office and Russia’s consumer rights protection watchdog Rospotrebnadzor. Everything is clearly explained there,” the minister explained.

As a neighbour of Burevestnik venue, the author could make sure that somebody emerged from the underground before the minister’s order, for instance, young gymnasts had fun at the stadium to the full, but the sports minister’s order will allow synchronising the operation of all sports venues.

A gradual return of the republic to normal life was noted by the minister who reminded the audience that the republic, Tetyushi, had already hosted the fourth stage of the Russian Shooting Cup. A mass run that took place in many cities of the country at the same time was held, this fact broke the world record in number of people competing simultaneously. The Russian Triathlon Championship will begin in Almetyevsk on 8 August, while Tukay District will stage the Presidential Motorcycle Sport Cup.

The republic had already hosted the fourth stage of the Russian Shooting Cup. Photo: Maksim Platonov

Pile of plans

The republic’s football championship is planned to begin on 8 August as well, which is a traditional day when the USSR and now Russia celebrated the Athlete’s Day, the last matches of the competition were as early as on 8 March during the winter championship that ended with Neftekhimik’s U23 team’s victory.

Heroes’ Race is scheduled for late August, while the next plans will be in autumn. The All-Russian Street Games are expected in September, while the troubled 1st Games of the CIS Countries were put off until October. By the way, the operator of this event — the Directorate for Sports Projects — has already begun training volunteers.

While the current situation did its best to cancel the competition, while this project wasn’t tabled. The strange incident before the Belarusian presidential election was added to the already existing tension in political affairs between Russia and Ukraine. It is unknown what the new-old head of the country or a newly elected one, but it is interesting that the electoral rhetoric united the two candidates for the head of the government in the critical attitude to Russia: “Russia changed brotherly relations for partnership,” this sounds like Aleksandr Lukashenko’s claim. Azerbaijan and Armenia again remembered their arguments they had managed to solve in the last 70 years of their residence in the USSR. Kyrgyzstan is choking on coronavirus, Kazakhstan hopes the borders will open, which particularly the republic’s Secretary General of the Federation of Aquatic Sports Sergey Drozdov told our newspaper, but this is just hope. Anyway, everybody has problems, and there are so many problems that Leonov didn’t manage even to specify who what problems has.

“We are completely ready for the Games of the CIS Countries,” Leonov noted. “All venues have been booked, as well as the hotels. One question remains: when will the borders open and how will the athletes get there? Somebody is in quarantine, somebody has a second wave, somebody has a state of emergency. It pleases that most athletes are doing their training. We aren’t ready to talk about the possible cancellation of the CIS Countries’ Games, and I can say as organisers of the tournament we are ready and work every day.”

The First Games of the CIS Countries put off to October. Photo: salamnews.org

All we can do is to deal with “import substitution” of competitions

This rhetoric gives us to understand that the situation in the country allows forecasting sports competitions, but as for the external world, there is no only one question but ten questions, big and small. For instance, Kazan lost the right to host the Russian spring championship, which was a qualifier for the Olympics in Tokyo, but it, in fact, was put off until autumn, preliminarily on 25-30 October. And the Swimming World Cup stages (scheduled for autumn) as well as World Diving and Synchronised Swimming Series that were to be in spring were postponed de facto, and de jure they fell into oblivion.

This is why the situation now resembles the USSR in the 20-40s and China in the 60-80s that were preparing to enter the world’s top sports countries on the verge of the international sports movement. We don’t have international competitions — we are practising “import substitution”, saving money on business trips and awards, using it in construction projects planned in the past.

For instance, on 4 August, Leonov talked about a big sports fleet that would include Ak Bars Wrestling Centre, Beach Sports Centre, Aquatics Palace, Ak Bars Arena and the Ice Palace, which will be built for figure skaters. “The design documentation and cost sheet will be ready until the end of the summer. Then we will consider federal programmes to have the construction project co-financed.”

Leonov talked about a big sports fleet that would include Ak Bars Wrestling Centre, Beach Sports Centre, Aquatics Palace, Ak Bars Arena and the Ice Palace, which will be built for figure skaters. Photo: Maksim Platonov

This is practised in Privolzhsky District that has the already mentioned venue Burevestnik, Zilant ice palace, Tulpar stadium, tennis, badminton and gymnastics centres that are located at a distance, the volleyball, rowing and field hockey centres are close enough, which, in fact, hosted the briefing. Some of them are a part of the Volga Sports Academy, which is located in the same place, something operates autonomously. But such sports fleets simplify hosting multisport competitions such as the Games of the CIS Countries or the 2013 Universiade.

So now we should note that life goes on, including sports life. The tennis centre didn’t manage to host an international beach tennis tournament, which already became traditional, but young students of this school Anastasia Lizunova and Vlada Guryleva became a champion and medallist of the Golden Dome series in Sergiyev Posad. Zilant rugby players became champions in Moscow, while Energy’s rugby players won the Russian Beach Rugby Championship. On 3 August, ISU’s council made a decision not to cancel the Grand Prix series unlike junior stages of this competition. Due to restrictions on international flights that are in force in many countries, the format of the competition will be discussed. This means that the traditional Kazan tournament Idel hosted in the middle of November can be a smaller world championship. Zagitova, Kostornaya, Medvedeva, Trusova, Scherbakova, junior skaters Valeyeva, Usachyova, Khromykh and Co — Russia has so many great figure skaters now who are limited to competing in the current situation that Kazan will certainly grab something. While now...

“As practice shows, we are adaptive people, we can get used to everything,” the words said by Leonov somewhere in the middle of the talk with journalists accurately characterises all the current situation.

By Dzhaudat Abdullin