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Thursday, 25 July 2013 09:53

President Ilham Aliyev received winners and prize-winners in the 27th Summer Universiade in Kazan

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President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev has received winners and prize-winners in the 27th Summer Universiade in Kazan, as well as their coaches and sports professionals of the republic.

Addressing the meeting, President Ilham Aliyev said:

- Dear sportsmen. Distinguished guests, sports professionals and coaches!

I am pleased to salute and extend my congratulations on the great success achieved in the recent Universiade in Kazan.

This is a great win! It is yet another sporting success of our state and nation. Our athletes have performed at a very high level, won 16 medals, including four gold, five silver and seven bronze ones. Our national anthem was played four times and our national flag was raised 16 times. Azerbaijan has proved to the world again that it is a sporting nation and that sport is developing very successfully in Azerbaijan.

I should also note that our athletes have been able to finish in 15th place in team rankings. We are in ninth place in Europe and in first place among Muslim countries. This is also our great success. Hard work and professionalism of athletes are at the core of this success. In last year's Olympic Games in London, our athletes achieved a very high and historic success. Sport in Azerbaijan is developing so rapidly that there is consistency in this sphere. Professional athletes, youth, students, children, teenagers - there is a great interest in sports. Azerbaijan is achieving great success in all representative international competitions. In London, we won 10 medals, and this too was a historic achievement.

There was a great deal of interest in the Universiade. The eyes of the whole world were focused on the games those days.

Of course, these successes of Azerbaijan show the overall development of our country. It is no secret that sport can develop successfully and great victories can be achieved in it only in strong and powerful states. Azerbaijan is a country that is rapidly developing. In particular, the progress made in the field of sports is duly evaluated by the global community. I think that we have managed to popularize sport. However, there is still much to do in this area. But if we look at the overall situation, the growing interest in sports in recent years and the influx of people into various sports, especially the interest of children and adolescents, this shows that we have managed to popularize it. This is also evidenced by the recent opening of a 38th regional Olympic Sports Center in Khachmaz. Thirty-eight of our cities now have excellent sporting facilities. As you know, this work is under way. Every city and every district center will have excellent opportunities.

Sport shows the overall development of each society. I want to say again that only developed countries can achieve the biggest successes in sports. And this is only natural because these countries pay great attention to sports. They have a strong sporting infrastructure and make investment in sports. Despite the fact that Azerbaijan is a newly independent state, we are also building up our power, and I think that government support for sports has played a role in these successes. Of course, very professional work of the coaches and sports professionals, and the dedication of athletes have contributed to this overall development.

Sport in Azerbaijan is a national issue. Sport is an integral part of our society. At all events associated with sports I emphasize that everyone, especially young people, should do sports. Even if you are not an athlete, sports give people physical and moral strength and confidence. Sport is a culture.

I believe that the government policy has produced positive results in this direction. Government attention to athletes is also at a high level. I regularly meet with athletes and congratulate them on their successes. I am glad that our meetings have been held regularly these years.

Of course, this is my public duty as President of the National Olympic Committee. But at the same time, during meetings with athletes, I enquire about their lives. What additional measures should be taken to raise young athletes? We constantly keep this in focus too. The successful and consistent development of sports has already been ensured. Our younger generation is growing up – students and children. Regularly visiting different regions, I see how enthusiastic children and kids are about sport.

You are also young. One can say that you are making your first big steps in sports. You have a great and bright future ahead. I am sure that you will take part in the Olympic Games in 2016 and raise the flag of Azerbaijan there. In other words, I am sure that you and the people of Azerbaijan have no doubt about the future of our sport. We are confident that our athletes will always make us happy.

I should also note that our society has grown accustomed to the successes of our athletes. It seems as though this is the way it should be. In previous years, every victory caused great repercussions. And this is also natural because as the number of victories increases, people get used to them and it seems that they are very easy to achieve. You, athletes, and those who are involved in sports know very well the cost of all of these victories and the cost of representing your country at a high level. You get injuries and become tired. All of this remains out of sight. But everyone should know about that. Victories in such representative competitions certainly require great dedication, professionalism and love of the motherland. Our young people are brought up in the spirit of patriotism and are attached to the country and people. Their greatest reward is the love and appreciation of the people. I am sure that this is also the case for you.

I am very glad to meet with you today. I would like to note that the state of Azerbaijan worthily evaluates your successes.

On the basis of the Order I signed this morning, athletes will be given cash prizes. For the first time victories in a Universiade will be rewarded with cash prizes at a high level. A corresponding Order will be published today. The state is paying constant attention and shows care about athletes and their coaches. Housing problems of the athletes are also being resolved. At the end of each year we traditionally present athletes with apartments. Other prizes are available during the year as well. This is natural and this is necessary. This support and care of the state are necessary.

But I would like to say again that I am absolutely convinced that the path that led you to victory passes through your heart, love of the country and love of our national flag.

I congratulate you on this victory once again. I express my gratitude to you on behalf of the Azerbaijani people. I am sure that you will please us many more times in the future. Thank you.


President Ilham Aliyev: Thank you. This is a great win indeed! I want to reiterate that this is a sporting victory and, at the same time, a victory of the Azerbaijani state. The newly independent state of Azerbaijan has a say in the world of sports and we are among the strongest.

I also want to note that the international competitions held in Azerbaijan in recent years, including the European and world championships, have certainly contributed to the development of sports. Azerbaijan is a country that enjoys a great reputation in the global sports community now. Azerbaijan regularly hosts international competitions, including the European Games to be held in Azerbaijan in two years. This is also our sporting success.

As you know, European Games have not been held before. Similar games have been conducted on other continents for many years. But Europe does not have such experience. The decision to hold such games is important in itself, especially when we consider that the holding of the inaugural games has been entrusted to us. This, of course, is yet another success of our country. As you know, preparatory work is currently under way. We have only two years. You have successfully performed at the Universiade and know how many years preparations for the Universiade took.

Preparations for Summer Olympic Games take six to seven years. The venue of the Olympic Games in 2020 will be determined at the end of this year. So there will be six to seven years in which to prepare.

We have just two years. But despite this, I am sure that we will conduct the European Games at the highest level. We will conduct them at the level of Summer Olympic Games. We have the necessary capacity and all sports facilities, including the magnificent Olympic stadium and the aquatic palace under construction in Baku. The existing sports facilities are being renovated.

Of course, the hosting of European Games is not limited to the establishment of the sports infrastructure. There are issues of transportation, security and organizational matters. All of these issues require a lot of work and great talent. But Azerbaijan already has considerable experience in conducting international competitions and events. I have no doubt whatsoever that, despite the shortage of time, we will host the European Games at a high level. I am sure that you, the athletes sitting here today, will actively participate in the games and make our people happy again.

I would also like to note that, of course, there are different criteria for the development of sports – the sports infrastructure, the percentage of people engaged in sports, and other factors. But I think that the most important among them is the success of athletes and the number of medals won. We have been consistently, from year to year, increasing the number of medals won. If we look at the history of Olympic Games, we can see that from 1996 to 2012 the number of medals won at Olympics Games has grown consistently. A total of 10 medals were won last time. And this is not the limit. In the last Olympic Games even more medals should have been won, but in some cases the unfairness of judges prevented this from happening.

But I believe that our athletes will continue to delight us in the future too. We look forward to your continued successes. I am glad that there are new faces and new names in our sports now. Most of the athletes who participated and achieved success at this Universiade are young people who are not very familiar to Azerbaijani society. And this is a very positive development. This means that a new generation is emerging, and I am sure that further successes of our athletes will follow soon.

I want to go back to the idea that finishing in 15th place among 162 countries in the second most prestigious competition to Olympic Games is a truly historic victory. Only strong countries are capable of doing it, and a strong state means a strong society. The professionalism and talent of our people and, let me say again, their attachment to the homeland have brought about this success. I congratulate you again and wish you continued success.


Then the head of state congratulated the sportsmen, coaches and sports professionals who contributed to the great victory won in Kazan one by one, and wished them all the best.

A picture was taken in the end.

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Ministry of Youth and Sport
of Azerbaijan Republic

National Olympic Committee
of Azerbaijan Republic

Fédération Internationale
des Luttes Associées