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Belarus has worthy athletes for European Olympic Games, Belarus National Olympic Committee spokeswoman says

Press secretary and adviser to the National Olympic Committee of Belarus Anastasia Marinina answered questions of the program Sports Week on the CTV.

I know for sure that you recently returned from Baku, where soon the first-ever European Olympic Games will be held. Did you feel the breath of these games now in Azerbaijan?

Anastasia Marinina:
Baku is undergoing final preparations for the Olympic Games, almost all sports facilities are ready.  The city lives these Games and is waiting for guests.

Event number 1 in Belarusian sport at the moment is the victory of Darya Domracheva in the overall standings of World Cup Biathlon. How are you feeling about this victory?

Anastasia Marinina:
Certainly I cheered for her. After the Olympics in Sochi everyone asked Dasha at a press conference: "Dasha, what are your plans for next season? You might want to have a rest after three gold medals?" She said "No. I have a plan to win the big crystal globe." And, of course, the whole country believed in it and wanted Dasha to win.

Thanks to Darya, people found out about Belarus. They now know that this country is home to sporting enthusiasts. They know that beautiful, confident, charming and sociable girls live here.

And now again Dasha will be asked about her plans. Will she choose family or career?

Anastasia Marinina:
We are waiting for Dasha to return to Belarus. We are waiting for her answer. Therefore, when she comes back she will show here all her trophies. And again, we wish her good luck in everything, no matter what she plans.

Pan American and Asian Games have already gained popularity. Now we hope that the European Games will be approximately the same.
Anastasia are those competitions necessary at all?

Anastasia Marinina:
The very idea of ​​the European Games was in the air since the 1990s. But no one could implement it, because Europe has quite strong continental championships in sports. However, Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee, expressed support for the idea. And then the European Olympic Committees in 2012 decided to hold the European Games. And while ordinary capitals of the Olympic Games have seven years to prepare, Baku had only two. Over two years, a great job has been done. The strongest athletes will come - 50 countries have already confirmed their participation. And such a wonderful invitation has already been handed over to the chief of the mission - Olympic champion Dmitry Dovgalyonok. As we see, the Games are unusual.  
And these games are unusual because it is not the classic competition - not only to Olympic sports will be involved. Out of 20 sports, only 16 will be Olympic. Four are experimental.  They are 3x3 basketball, beach volleyball, which will feature the Belarusian men's team, karate and sambo. Sambo is a "traditional" Belarusian sport. We have there strong medal traditions, so we also look forward to a successful performance. Why is it done? In principle, in the future any country hosting these Games will not have a rigid competition program. Each country may include its traditionally strong sports, thereby bringing the greatest number of fans to the sports grounds and encourage young sportsmen to engage in new sports.

You mentioned that you had just returned from Baku. Accredited media, as well as athletes could see sports facilities. Are they ready?

Anastasia Marinina:
Some objects have a 100 percent readiness and some are 90 per cent ready. But there are no doubts that everything will be done in time. Small details remain. A media village is about to open, it will take 500 journalists. 18 Belarusian journalists have been accredited to the Games in Baku, accreditation will be completed on April 3. And we hope that all Belarusian fans will follow all the events. Because also the CTV channel crew will be represented at the first European Olympics. There will be special releases and a lot of programs. And the whole of Belarus, from 12 to 28 June, will cheer for the Belarusian Olympic team.

What goals does the National Olympic Committee set for our athletes?

Anastasia Marinina:
In these European Games, 11 sports are qualifiers for the Olympics in Rio. And this was also done in order to attract the largest possible number of participants. In three disciplines, athletes will directly qualify for the Olympic Games. In others, such as track and field or wrestling, they will gain qualification points, as it is was done earlier. That's why interest in participating in these games is very high.

Can you give us some names of athletes who will definitively take part?

Anastasia Marinina:
The final application will be declared on 5 May. Now the list of contenders includes Olympic champions the Bogdanovich brothers (rowing) and Vadim Makhnev, the Olympic champion. Victoria Chaika, shooter, is in the expanded list. We also have Vladimir Samsonov there (master of table tennis). That is, we will have someone to cheer for. The strongest athletes are in sambo, in freestyle wrestling and in boxing. Belarusian fans may probably be upset by absence of athletics, I mean that the Belarusian team will not feature. The European Team Championship will be competing in Baku, the Third League. Our athletes are so strong that they are in the Highest League. They will go to Cheboksary.

Non-Olympic sports will partake in the European Olympic tournament. Can this be a step towards Olympics for them? After all, sambo has long been moving in this direction. Are there chances that sambo gets into the Olympic family?

Anastasia Marinina:
Sambo has repeatedly applied for inclusion in the Olympic program. And these European games will be a test for them. Of course, all this will increase their chances of inclusion in the Olympic program. Same goes for 3x3 basketball. At the Youth Olympic Games, this discipline is already in place. Minsk will host the European Championship among U18 players in August.  It is quite dynamic and spectacular sport. It also has a good chance to be included in the Olympic program. These Games is like a litmus test.


Invitation to European Olympic Games

Anastasia, we know that in 2019, Belarus hosts the European Youth Olympic Festival. And how does it differ from the Games?

Anastasia Marinina:
The European Youth Olympic Festival is like small Olympics for athletes in the age group 14-18. It includes eight sports. And the biggest positive moment is that Belarusian athletes perform in all sports in an expanded format. In particular, it is very important for the development of team sports. That is, it increases the level of development of not only athletes, but also coaches, referees, volunteers, managers, and organizers. That is, after that, we will be able to host some more serious competitions or even big for the same European games. Why not?

Personally, I have no doubt that the European Olympic Games will some time visit Belarus and we will conduct them perfectly. What do you think?

Anastasia Marinina:
I think that the stands will be full. We saw how the whole country cheered for Dasha, for the national hockey team. The same goes for rhythmic gymnasts and athletics. And if all these athletes come to us, and Belarus competes with the giants of world sport, win medals and the flag of the republic rises over the sports fields to our anthem, I think then no Belarusian fan will remain indifferent.

Anastasia Marinina, Belarus National Olympic Committee spokeswoman