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Minister of Sport and Tourism says Belarusian officials adhere to more healthy lifestyle nowadays

The Youth/Junior World Championships Biathlon have completed. The next such competition will be held in Romania. In the coming days, from 4 to 15 March, Finland will host the senior world championship.

Belarus' Darya Domracheva is one of the favorites to win the competition. She tops the overall World Cup biathlon standings. In addition to her, the women's team of Belarus includes Nadezhda Skardino, Nadezhda Pisareva, Anastasia Duborezova and Irina Krivko. The men's team will also take part but they are far from being considered favorites. The CTV's program "Week" talked with the Minister of Sports and Tourism Alexander Shamko about Belarusian sport in general.

The Youth / Junior Biathlon World Championships ended in Raubichi. How would you rate the preparation for the world championships? 

Alexander Shamko, Minister of Sports and Tourism of the Republic of Belarus:
Many international experts commended that this complex is now part of the world's top three biathlon complexes. I believe that athletes' and the audience's opinions are generally positive. After all, attendance figures are high. I think over 25,000 people attended the competitions.

Some say 30,000 maybe.

Alexander Shamko:
We have, by the way, an accurate count. This attendance says how popular biathlon in this country is. Of course, we hear good opinions about (the ski complex) Raubichi. Because people want to watch sports in the comfortable conditions. Our neighbors (in particular, Ukraine - note by staff) expressed great interest in using the complex.  Therefore, I think, we will receive even more applications. We will definitely increase export of services. Of course, the main task is to create conditions for our national teams.

What about the performance of the Belarusian national team? 

Alexander Shamko:
The team did really well, I think. I think I speak now not as a minister of sport, but as a fan. I would not consider the results of the championship only from the point of view of medals. I would consider individual performances. Perhaps the problem that we have today in our sport, in biathlon, is the transition from youth sports to senior level: how can we bring up athletes promising young athletes and turn them into top-level athletes such as Darya Domracheva or Nadezhda Skardino. This question is indeed a problem today, but if we compare with other countries, we probably are in a more difficult situation. In Russia, there are a lot more people, I mean larger population. Therefore, we need to focus on the preparation of individual athletes. These guys should be treated in a special way, with a special approach. By the way, we are succeeding in it in biathlon.

Referring to sports themes, the President often says that clubs need to learn to make money themselves, and not just rely on state support. Is there any progress in this regard? 

Alexander Shamko:
We see the changing mentality and approaches. Clubs themselves start to learn how to earn money. Statistics recorded that 50% of funds for clubs come from non-governmental sources. That is, in fact, we managed to reduce the burden on the state. I think this is the right direction. We do not think to stop. We must look for new forms. New strategic directions to be able to earn and attract additional resources.

What do you think: should Belarus develop many sports or perhaps focus on those where we do well? Biathlon, tennis, swimming...

Alexander Shamko:
Firstly, we do not set such a task to restrict the development of sports. Another issue is the question of state support. We can develop a wide variety of sports today. And it may even be a good idea. Why? Because young people today are involved in a lot of new sports and physical training. Who can say that it is bad? No one. Another question is concentration of state resources on sports where we will be able to achieve results. That would not be a state-like decision to develop the sports in which we don't have rich traditions or in which we don't have the required facilities. We are going to support those sports in which we have a good traditions, good schools and facilities. We spend 85% of the budget of the Ministry of Sport on the 15 major sports.

Do you do any kind of sport? In general, do Belarusian officials participate in promoting a healthy lifestyle? 

Alexander Shamko:
As for me, tennis and skiing. However, due to the recent weather conditions, I have not been able to do much of that.  In the summer, of course, biking and swimming pool... This is a must. Swimming enjoys great popularity in Belarus. The head of our state also reflects the hobby of many people - hockey and biathlon.   Indeed, today you can meet many officials on the treadmill or bike, or with a tennis racket, or on skis. Therefore, I think, in this respect, our country and sport are probably lucky. In addition, many officials and many businesses today are heads of respective federations. As I said earlier, we have public responsibility for the development of sports, and it certainly helps a lot in the development of a particular sport.  I think the growing number of international competitions hosted by our country is also very positive for Belarus. In 2014, we hosted the IIHF world championship and also had a number of victories at the Sochi Olympics. Moreover, last year was the Year of Hospitality. So I see positive dynamism in the development of Belarusian sport.