MOSCOW, February 17 (Itar-Tass) - Both athletes and officials have excellent impressions of the organization and sports facilities of the 22nd winter Olympics in Sochi, Russian sports minister said in an interview to the Russian government-published Rossiiskaya Gazeta.
“The impressions are the very best ones. The Olympics have gained pace. The equator is behind, so to say. Both athletes and officials have been saying they are delighted. Everybody likes Sochi. The conditions created for the Olympic athletes deserve special mention. The sports facilities, the Olympic village, the food and transport - everything is at the highest level. Everybody likes everything. So far we have heard only words of thanks.” Mutko said.
The sports minster described support from the fans as “fantastic.”
“Such excitement is natural when the local public sees Russian compete, of course. But all other participants enjoy the same kind of friendly attitude. Without exceptions. I visit all competitions and I often contact with fans. It is just great the people have gathered here from all over the country. Not just from Sochi and Moscow. There are people from many other places, from Kamchatka in the east to Kaliningrad in the west,” Mutko said.” The Olympics and everything around them is just perfect. It’s a real sports holiday.”
The Russian sports minster likes the number and quality of broadcasts.
“The Olympics have let us discover or learn more about many sports,” he said. “After all, freestyle skiing, skeleton, bobsleighing and luge are still not very popular in Russia. What do we usually see on the TV screens? Biathlon and ice hockey.
“Now we have had a chance to see world leaders in some disciplines we still know very little about. We can see our athletes who have seldom appeared on the TV screens so far. We get an idea of how strong sports competition is in the world. I am certain that after the Games there will be a powerful influx of newcomers to the new disciplines. Our task today is to make use of this upsurge in interest towards some sports. We should act fast to create sports centres in different regions across the country,” Mutko said.
As he looked back on the performance of Russian athletes at the Sochi Olympics, Mutko said: “Ten days have passed. We are in the middle of the road. The national team is doing just great. We already have one gold medal more than we won at the Vancouver Olympics. I am not ashamed of this team. These boys and girls have demonstrated great sacrifice.”
In particular, Mutko pointed to figure skating.
“We set some very ambitious tasks to ourselves and we have coped with them. We have the gold in the team event and in pairs. I would like to congratulate our figure skaters upon this. Still ahead for us are women’s singles. And I do have faith in our ice dancers,” Mutko said.
As for the skiing and biathlon is concerned, Mutko said that “in Vancouver there were very few medals, too.”
“Biathlon is not our strength yet. Kuzmina, Domracheva, Bjorndalen... No surprises in biathlon so far. But it is not the end of the show yet. There are some races where we have great hopes,” Mutko said, adding that in particular he had in mind Kryukov, Legkov and Vylegzhanin and the 50-kilometer race and the relay race.
“The number of events where we can compete for medals keeps growing. I am certain that we shall get what we deserve. All teams are in a very good mood. Everybody feels eager and is aware of the responsibility. We need support - up to the last day and to the last minute,” Mutko said.