President of Belarus has guaranteed the best IIHF World Championship ever. Alexander Lukashenko said this at the meeting with head of the International Ice Hockey Federation, IOC Executive Committee member Rene Fasel.
The President thanked the guest for tremendous work and support provided to Belarus. The world championship will take place in the capital in May 2014. This decision was made five years ago at the International Ice Hockey Federation congress. The games will take place at two arenas, Minsk Arena and Chizhovka Arena. And, according to the president, all matches of the upcoming IIHF World Championship will be sell-outs.
Alexander Lukashenko: "First of all, Rene, I want to thank you, for the courage that you personally and the Federation demonstrated in relation to Belarus and the world championship that will be held in Belarus (now it is known for sure). I know very well what pressure the International Federation had to withstand. You experienced the same pressure."
"Our hockey players are proud of the president of the International Ice Hockey Federation. They say: 'Do you see? He is a real man. He said that sport should be out of politics and he delivered on this promise. If it is decided to hold the championship in Minsk then it will take place in Minsk.' And no matter what the pressure was, frankly speaking, for some time I doubted and thought whether Rene would really surrender and give up on his promise. But he managed to withstand that pressure. I'm very grateful to you for that."
"I guarantee that the world championship in Minsk will be the best in the history of this competition. The best championship may be held only when the stands are full of people. I think you, as an athlete, understand this perfectly. And I want to assure you that all matches of the championship will be sell-outs."
"I am convinced that you will be proud of this world championship. That is because you have put in much effort immediately after it had been decided to hold the championship here. IIHF representatives came here all the time, advised and told us how to do things in the right way. I think we have done a lot in this direction."
For his part, Rene Fasel, expressed his gratitude to the President. "The first time I visited Belarus was in 1981 and since that time I have appreciated the warmth and hospitality of the Belarusian people. You have mentioned pressure on the Federation. However, our position is clear: we separate sports from politics. This position remains unchanged. We want to hold a great championship in Belarus. And we hope that guests who arrive in Minsk will be able to enjoy the hospitality and warmth of the Belarusian people and also enjoy this great sporting event."
Preparatory work is going in line with the plan that was endorsed by the president. From 25 April to 31 May organized tourists will be able to enter Belarus visa-free. They will only need to show tickets for matches. About 14 new hotels are going to open their doors to tourists.
Schemes of targeted passenger transport routes were created and places for hospitality areas and fan zones have been determined, the news program 24 Hours on the CTV channel reports.
Alexander Lukashenko: "We have done everything for the World Championship. We have built the most modern palaces where the competitions will take place. We have enough reserve training grounds where one can exercise at any time of the day."
"We have created the entire transport and sports infrastructure in order to make sure that people feel comfortable moving around Minsk and the country in general. We have opened the country to guests. There are almost no prohibited places. No visa restrictions. All guests are free to enter Belarus upon showing tickets for a particular match. We have done everything in order not to feel ashamed and in order for the guests to be able to see our country."
Rene Fasel said: "Your approach to the organization of the competition really impresses me. We have long wanted to visit Belarus. After all, hockey is one of the most popular sports in your country. We did not doubt that you would be able to build good arenas and host guests and athletes."
Rene Fasel knows that Alexander Lukashenko is ice hockey enthusiast. That is why he presented the head of the Belarusian state with collection pucks of Olympic and Paralympic Games.