Tatarstan sport minister: ‘Unfortunately, today our country is where it is’

Vladimir Leonov explained why the Olympics in Kazan can be just talk at the moment

The Tatarstan Sport Ministry announced main sports competitions the republic will host this year. An unprecedented number of different aquatic tournaments awaits Kazan. The republic’s Sport Minister Vladimir Leonov said if the long-awaited world volleyball championship would take place, if the city would apply for the Olympics in 2036 at a briefing in the Government House. Read more about it in Realnoe Vremya’s report.

Unprecedented aquatic programme

Sport Minister Vladimir Leonov started his speech congratulating Tatarstan Olympians who had recently won medals: Victor Wild who won the bronze in parallel giant slalom and Leninogorsk-born Danil Sadreyev who won the silver in ski jumping. “He is the youngest competitor. More competitions are ahead, hopefully, they will bring us medals,” noted the head of the Sport Ministry.

After that, he quite expectedly switched to the discussion of his favourite aquatic sports. Vladimir Leonov himself likes spending time in the swimming pool, while the work with FINA became the main area of Tatarstan in the global expansion in sport.

“You know that we have been working with different international sports federations since 2015 and even an earlier period. FINA is one of them. This year, there will be a lot of aquatic events, different interesting formats. The management changed there (Editor’s note: Al-Musallam from Kuwait replaced Uruguay’s Julio Maglione, 85). This is why from this year FINA is trying new formats of events by combining then. A FINA Artistic Swimming World Series leg and the FINA Diving World Series stage will be held at the Aquatics Palace at the same time in April.”

“For us, an opportunity to host two world legs at once is a good chance to test ourselves before the 2024 European Championships and the FINA World Championship, which will be in Kazan again in 2025. We have the best aquatic venue in the country, and it is an interesting experience for us,” Leonov didn’t fail to remind us.

Later, the sport minister of the republic reminded the audience that the World Junior Championship would take place at the Aquatic Palace in 2022. While the World Short Course Championships will become the crown of the annual programme. This competition will become the first international tournament after lifting our country’s “anti-doping ban” in December.

“It is a very serious tournament, all juniors, that’s to say, the future of world swimming will come here in Kazan. These lads will come to us for the world championship in three years. They will understand first-hand what Kazan, Tatarstan, Russia is. I mean it is a tournament for the future. <…> So in the end, we will host four and maybe five events in Kazan within the cooperation with FINA. It is unprecedented!” Vladimir Leonov concluded.

Olympic Games in 2036 and Kazan: nothing specific again

We will say in advance that probably today’s hot-button issue was brought up at the briefing too — the application for the Summer Olympic Games in 2036 in Kazan. However, as it is known, the Russian Olympic Committee is not in a great situation: our country is still imposed sanctions by the IOC, while the national team is now competing in Beijing without its flag and anthem under the flag of the Russian Olympic Committee.

So the Olympics in Kazan are just talks, which the republic’s sport minister reminded us. In fact, journalists didn’t receive any specific information about this topic. It was just the next “pact on intentions.”

“We talked about this a long time ago: today Kazan as a location is very famous on the sports map. We have especially been shining in the last 10 years. Therefore we look into the future. Today I have already said that we work with a lot of federations, they trust us. <…> But we would like to host the Olympic Games more. It is known that the Olympic Games are scheduled in advance, therefore there is a desire to host the Youth Olympics: we are ready for this, there is infrastructure. We discussed this with the Olympic Committee, and Russian Sport Minister Oleg Matytsin made a series of statements. Unfortunately, today our country is where it is. We have some restrictions to submitting applications till the end of the year, this is why now we can just talk,” the Tatarstan sport minister answered.

He also stressed the necessity of agreeing with the federal centre on such a serious issue as financing.

“We have a big desire, of course. But in any case this shouldn’t be only our desire. There must be one opinion at all levels because governmental guarantees are needed when applying for such competitions. Therefore if they believe and trust us, we will fight. Anyway, there will be big competition, we aren’t alone. But this matter will be discussed more earlier next year.”

International judo is back in Kazan, while Uram will be fully utilised

As it turned out, one of the judo Grand Slam legs will move from Paris to Kazan in the next years. By the way, Tatarstan judoka Niyaz Bilalov won bronze medals five years ago. The reason for the cancellation of the competition in France is prosaic: the pandemic and epidemiological situation in the country.

“Due to the epidemiological situation, this tournament in Paris was cancelled, and they needed to move it somewhere. Since we have good relations with the international federation — we hosted the Universiade and then several tournaments (Editor’s note: Kazan hosted the European Championships at Tatneft Arena in May 2016), they offered us to host this tournament. We signed a contract for three years, and now we will host this competition at Tatneft Arena,” Leonov said and noted that after the Grand Slam Kazan could apply for a world championship.

The sport minister also mentioned the upcoming Urban Games Kazan has hosted in the last two years. The competition isn’t international yet, it is Russian. Kazan is just going to apply for world-class tournaments. Prizes in “youth” sports are usually given in such competitions — 3x3 basketball, workout, BMX freestyle, roller sports, skateboarding and breakdance.

Leonov promised some surprises would be prepared for the competitors at the 3rd Games.

“You know how popular Uram is, especially during the high season. But now we opened the indoor venue too. Therefore we want to fill this location with both Russian and international competitions. We are just holding talks on international tournaments. But to cement and accumulate experience, we agreed to host these competitions. We understand that this venue needs to be used as much as possible.”

Kazan renews Volleyball Centre

The 2022 FIVB Volleyball Men's World Championship will become another big international competition Kazan is involved in. A lot was said if Russia would have this tournament after the ban. However, the international volleyball federation insisted, and this September 10 Russian cities will host the world championship among the globe’s best teams.

“You know how people like volleyball here: it is one of the most popular sports in the republic today. We have renowned teams, both the men and women’s teams. Volleyball develops from a perspective of young players. The Yekaterina Gamova School works, there is a school league, students play volleyball. Today volleyball is one of the key sports in our republic. And of course, we are pleased that our city was entrusted with hosting such a tournament together with 10 cities. We will host six matches, moreover, not from the first stage but the second stage, those teams that will qualify will come, and it will be one of the best national teams.”

Also, the republic’s sport minister mentioned the works done at the Volleyball Centre where matches of the world championship will be held.

“We updated the Volleyball Centre. We repaired it, increased the capacity, placed additional screens, repaired the area under the stands... It might seem to be a new venue, but it opened 10 years ago. We breathe new life and renovated it.”

What else will be held in Tatarstan this year?

  • Besides big competitions, Tatarstan is preparing to host the FISU University World Cup Rugby Sevens. Kazan is against establishing the work with FISU it has been in close contact since the Universiade. The matches will be at Tulpar. 8 men and 8 women’s national teams will play here.
  • The Yeltsin Cup tennis ITF junior tournament will be held again.
  • Russian Rhythmic Gymnastics Championship.
  • Two Russian synchronised swimming championships will be held at the Aquatics Palace in April. A qualifier for the World Championship will also take place there.
  • Russian Shooting Championship.
  • Russian Athletic Championship.
  • World Kuresh Championship in Menger village.
  • Russian Athletic Tournament in Kazan.
  • Russian Triathlon Championship in Almetyevsk.
  • Russian Rowing and Canoeing Tournament.
Erik Dobrolyubov

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