Marat Bariev: ‘We talked about the organisation of Youth Islamic Games in Kazan, liked the idea’
Russian-Chinese gymnastics competitions can possibly be held in Kazan this autumn, and in 2025 — the Islamic Youth Games. This was stated in an interview with Realnoe Vremya by President of the Gymnastics Federation of the Republic of Tatarstan, former Minister of Sports of Tatarstan Marat Bariev. “Fortunately, the state understands this need, supporting us in carrying out such sports events," he said. Read more about these and other international sports tournaments in our material.
Competitions with China in gymnastics
Mr Bariev, let's talk about international sports starts.
The Friendship Games started last year in Kazan, and from next year they will be held in Moscow. The BRICS Games are still a local situation with the competitions of athletes from five or six countries, while the Friendship Games are more variable in this regard, with a wider format of competitions with an unlimited number of participating countries. If potential participants are still financially interested in them, then the Olympian athletes will also come there, like, in fact, it was in 1984, when after the Olympics in Los Angeles, Olympian athletes from Western countries came to the Friendship Games, which was our alternative to those Games.
A very talented gymnast Daniel Marinov grew up in our gymnastics, the republican federation of which I head, who, at the age of 18, beat all members of the Olympic team at the Russian Championship. He won once, twice, it's time to test himself at the level of the same Chinese, other foreigners who will come to the Friendship Games, because at the moment he did not have a single international start. And there are many similar examples for which we are looking for ways to demonstrate our athletic abilities at the international level.
Fortunately, the state understands this need, supporting us in carrying out such sports events. By the way, when there was a summit meeting between Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping, I proposed to President of the Russian Gymnastics Federation Vasily Titov to hold a match meeting of the Russian and Chinese national teams. He talked with his Chinese colleagues and they became interested in such an option. The dates of November 20-26 have been tentatively determined, when we will have the opportunity to hold a similar match meeting, what is more — here, in Kazan.
In September, before these starts, the Russian-Chinese forum will be held in Kazan, and within its framework we also proposed to hold a match meeting on the game of go. We have a strong school in Kazan, our masters are highly regarded in Europe, and in China this game, despite that it was invented in Korea, is very popular. Now this issue is being worked out.
The Children of Asia has occupied a solid niche in the Asian continent”
As part of our communication on international events, I would like to express my gratitude to you for participating in the events such as Children of Asia.
As for the Children of Asia, these competitions have occupied a solid niche on the Asian continent, everyone knows about these starts, take part in them as much as possible, and these athletes then grow up to participate in the Olympics, World and Asian Championships. These competitions have three founders — the Olympic Committees of Russia, Asia, and the government of Yakutia, as the ancestor of these starts. For some time there were questions about the expediency of holding the Children of Asia, and last year it was discovered that this is the only international large-scale sports project that was held in Russia, and now it enjoys great attention of the country's sports leadership.
About participation in the Islamic Games. Over time, I thought about holding such starts, yet at the level of youth starts. Last autumn, Recep Erdogan's son, Bilal Erdogan, who is the head of the international organisation of ethnosport, who runs the organisation holding the Nomad Games, was in Kazan, and we talked about the organisation of the youth Islamic Games in Kazan, he liked this idea very much. After talking with the Ministry of Sports of Russia and Tatarstan, I submitted the concept of the Youth Islamic Games to Rustam Minnikhanov so that it could be presented at the Islamic Forum held in Kazan. And when Oleg Matytsin and Stanislav Pozdnyakov also came to this forum, a mini-meeting was organised to finalise these issues at the local level. The work is currently underway, presumably for 2025, because, like any post-Olympic year, it will be less filled with sporting events.
Besides, next year Russia hosts a large number of large-scale sports starts, and in 2026, perhaps, there may be a Youth Olympics again, which was previously postponed. Therefore, the year 2025 seems to me the most optimal year. So far, I see only supporters of this project.
I admit, when I was told about such competitions, I was perplexed. But now I understand that the Children of Asia, Islamic Games, and Nomad Games, and the connections that the Dynamo Society of Tatarstan has developed, contribute in every possible way to sports development.
And I've been thinking about this while working as a sports minister. Not specifically about this, but about sports cooperation in the Islamic Community. Those were the times when Russia was looking for friends only in the West, while the East was ready to cooperate. But we didn't even seem to notice them. Or, for example, the North of Africa, many countries there are interested in Russia, because often their current elite studied in the USSR, leaving good memories of our country.
“Selet became the first public organisation included in the number of the OIC Youth Forum”
Another thing is that not long ago our cooperation was possible, as they say, “for a penny”, because they were interested in competing with Russians. For example, rhythmic gymnastics competitions held by Irina Viner. Previously, they were ready to come — just call, but now they set, as they say, riders. And there is nowhere to go, because in order to obtain classifications of masters of sports, masters of sports of international class, status international competitions are necessary.
So, 15 years ago, I agreed with the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation to hold the Islamic Youth Forum in Kazan. Then we had a meeting at the level of the president of Tatarstan, and at that time we still discussed the process of introducing our children's and youth organisation Selet into the number of members of the Forum. It became the first public organisation included in the number of the OIC Youth Forum. Then, as part of my work in the Russian Olympic Committee, I established cooperation with Arab countries from North Africa, Asia, and athletes from Syria and a number of African countries came to Kazan in preparation for the Tokyo Olympics. Then there came the idea of creating an Association of Hockey of Islamic countries, implemented this year. Potential members came out with such a proposal, I had about two dozen letters from different countries, with which I addressed Rustam Minnikhanov. I had a preliminary conversation with Fetisov, then with the president of the Ice Hockey Federation Vladislav Tretyak, then went to the president of the IIHF, René Fasel. I submitted him a letter, there is still no answer, and then some kind of answer came from the category of nothing. Well, I think it's over before it started. And then at the next international forum Russia Is A Sports Power Fazel himself saw me and started asking: “Marat, how is Islamic hockey?"
You could have asked him exactly the same question in response.
I did so, then I explained the situation to him, and he started talking to his assistant, she is German. Then a colleague who knows German was standing next to me, and he translated their conversation. It turns out that she single-handedly decided to refuse to register such organisation without informing Fasel himself about it. He began to insist, and there, it turns out, they staged some kind of sabotage behind his back, knowing that he would soon resign as president of the IIHF.