Tatarstan hosts two world championships during COVID-19

It is a bit less than half of all world championships around the world

Tatarstan hosts two world championships during COVID-19
Photo: Rinat Nazmetdinov

What will 2020 be remembered for in sport? The smallest number of competitions hosted, especially world tournaments. World Belt Wrestling Championship in Kazan and FIS Ski Flying World Championships in Slovenia’s Planica ended simultaneously. There have been just five world championships during the pandemic in 2020, and Tatarstan hosted two of them. This is what Realnoe Vremya’s journalist offers us to be proud of.

You can tell how knows how to work and who learnt only to solicit fines

The FIS Ski Flying World Championships recently ended in Slovenia’s Planica. For better understanding, ski jumping, which is habitual for us, takes places at a height of 70 or 90 metres at Olympics and world alpine ski championships. So the world ski flying championship is hosted at 120 metres and held separately. 47 athletes gathered in Slovenia — 40 from Europe and another 7 represented Canada, the USA and Japan, consequently, there were three continents of the world. By the way, we respect the FIS because these championships are usually hosted once in two years in January and are one of the first in even years. They were to open 2020 but close it, which shows the power and work of the international federation. Another world championship was hosted in Italy — in road cycling. And the sambo federation organised a world championship in Novi Sad.

The world ski flying championship is hosted at 120 metres and held separately. Photo: eurosport.ru

While Tatarstan managed to host two world championships at once. In October, the International Kuresh Federation hosted a world championship in Kazan where 130 athletes from 26 countries participated, moreover, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan represented “not Europe” from “near-abroad countries”, and Mongolia and South Korea (all Asia) and African Angola did “far-abroad countries”.

Vice President of the federation Ravil Nogumanov said that some competitors had to get to Russia with connections because flights between countries were closed. It is also noteworthy that the final of the world championship was held in early October, at the height of the Armenian-Azerbaijani armed conflict, while Asman Abdullayev from Azerbaijan and Yervand Yegoyan from Armenia won medals on the mat of the Rowing Centre.

Last weekend, Kazan also hosted the world belt wrestling championship. If it was an isolated case, we would not spend our reader’s time, it is not Olympic sports in the end. But two world championships in a row prove that if there is a will, a solution can be found in other sports too.

While Tatarstan managed to host two world championships at once. In October, the International Kuresh Federation hosted a world championship in Kazan where 130 athletes from 26 countries participated, moreover, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan represented “not Europe” from “near-abroad countries”, and Mongolia and South Korea (all Asia) and African Angola did “far-abroad countries”. Photo: Maksim Platonov

Dzhaudat Minnakhmetov: “Athletes have managed to come to our championships despite different difficulties”

President of the International Kuresh Federation Dzhaudat Minnakhmetov noted in the December Russian Championships at the Volga Sports Academy: “We are glad that we have managed to host a series of Russian and international championships during this tough time thanks to the support of the Government of Tatarstan. And we thank the athletes who have managed to come to our championships despite different difficulties and problems. Kuresh for us is a symbol of a rich heritage and power of our people”.

World kuresh and belt wrestling championships nowadays are not only a water bottle in the WC that is necessary for ablution. It is not only the cancellation of the traditional announcement of the winner when the referee raises the arm of the winner, now the referee raised his arm (on the winner’s side). It is not only Tatarstan and world wrestling star Rail Nurgaliyev from under 100 kg weight category who won the next title of world kuresh champion in autumn. In early December, he again became the winner of the Russian Championship and won the World Belt Wrestling Championship too.

It is also about travelling, especially for representatives of the Asian continent. Irek Zinnurov, president of Sintez Aquatic Sports Club, shared problems of Astana team, which competes in the Russian Open Championship: “However, in Kazakhstan, not everything depends on the water polo club because a commission gathers to decide whether to let the team leave the country. Earlier, they managed to come for a month, if not more, lived in our country playing matches of Russia’s Open Championship. They went home and were ‘closed’ again”.

Dzhaudat Minnakhmetov noted: “We are glad that we have managed to host a series of Russian and international championships during this tough time”. Photo: Maksim Platonov

War against COVID-19 for some, world championship — for others

But one can look for positive moments this year too. “Underground” sports are now getting some attention that representatives of more popular sports previously had.

For instance, a flight to the world belt wrestling championship to Kazan was much more expensive for many delegations, but they did it thanks to the lockout in sport. Uzbekistani athletes said their Ministry of Sport helped them with their trip despite Hava Yollari airline had to cancel the flight from Tashkent to Kazan. And they invited members of the team from all over Uzbekistan first, mainly from Andijon, Fergana, Syrdarya Region and then flew from Tashkent to Moscow in one plane, then they travelled to Kazan.

The Kyrgyz team also picked up its athletes across the country, they headed to Moscow where several members of the squad joined them, and altogether they got to Kazan. The country itself is closed from external contacts, but one can leave the country on some days, and this option is available for athletes too. Even representatives of Ukraine competed in Kazan — both in kuresh and belt wrestling. So the 18th World Belt Wrestling Championship attracted around 150 athletes from 34 countries to Kazan, moreover, both men and women.

The logic of all guests and people who sent them is very simple. The year is about to end, the time to report on its results is nearing, and the awards of the real world sambo, kuresh and belt wrestling championships will appear in reports of the local sports administration. Even in Ukraine that used to unwillingly send its athletes to championships of non-Olympic sports. But what they can do if there is nothing in the sports world, even though they hosted the European Rhythmic Gymnastics Championship at home, where there weren’t Russian athletes, they didn’t win medals.

A flight to the world belt wrestling championship to Kazan was much more expensive for many delegations, but they did it thanks to the lockout in sport. Photo: Rinat Nazmetdinov

While head coach of team Uzbekistan Azamzhon Shakirzhanov expressed the main thought on behalf of Kazan guests in 2020: “We have our own styles of kuresh and belt wrestling we develop, and these championships have a great meaning for making them popular in our country. I even find it hard to say who of our colleagues from other sports have managed to compete this year in top competitions, such as the world championship because as an old saying put it, “The one who wants it finds a solution, the one who doesn’t want it finds an excuse”. And the organisers of these competitions and we, guests, did our best. And it turned out to be such a beautiful sports festival”.

By Dzhaudat Abdullin
Tatarstan