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Greek president believes in "splendid" Games in Sochi

February 04, 2014, 14:26 UTC+3 ATHENS

for Greeks, the Olympics were not merely a sport event, Karolos Papoulias said

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ATHENS, February 04. /ITAR-TASS/. Russia would stage splendid Olympics in the best possible way, Greek President Karolos Papoulias said in an exclusive interview with Itar-Tass ahead of his February 6 trip to the opening of the Winter Games in Sochi.

Papoulias believes the Games’ importance is obvious. “It is an encounter of the world’s youth in the spirit of Olympic ideals which Russia undertook to organize and is doing in the best possible way,” he said.

“We welcome the Olympics as a confirmation of countries’ and peoples’ adherence to the ideas of honest game, reconciliation, as well as the Olympic Truce for the time of the Games within the UN, which we urge all countries and parties, participating and non-participating, to stick to.”

When asked about sporadic urges to boycott the events, the president was determined in saying that “refusal to partake in the world's sporting event for non-sport reasons is out of the question”.

“I especially appreciate the way that Russia has managed the task of organizing the Games, well aware of the existing challenges,” Papoulias said, adding that he expected “splendid Olympics” in an environment of “absolute security”.

However, for Greeks, the Olympics were not merely a sport event, the leader said.

“Greece is motherland of the Olympics. It is a mature institute that plays an important role for humanity. They foster friendship between our peoples and strengthen the peace,” Papoulias added.

“Therefore, my presence in Sochi is of special importance,” he said, noting that he “will deliver the feelings of everlasting friendship of Greeks and Russians and confidence we shall co-operate not only bilaterally but also for a stronger spirit of rapport and mutual respect that should mark relations of the European Union and Russia”.

The Games in Sochi will run during February 7-23, to be followed by the Paralympic Games on March 7-16. Ninety-eight medal sets in 15 disciplines and 72 medal sets will be contested in the Olympics and the Paralympics respectively.

The Greek Olympic team comprises seven athletes in five disciplines — biathlon, Alpine skiing, cross-country skiing, ski jumping and skeleton.

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