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European Games in Minsk will be very successful, Pierce O'Callaghan says

Sports facilities in Minsk are ready to host the European Olympic Games 2019, sports director of the European Olympic Committees Pierce Callaghan told CTV correspondent Yana Shipko.

Mr. O'Callaghan, nice to meet you. It is very nice to see you on the ice. This is the first time you have appeared on this side of the ice hockey rink. isn't it?

Pierce O'Callaghan, sports director of the European Olympic Committees:
Yes. And I am very happy to be here. I know that the President yesterday played ice hockey here. And I congratulate your team on the victory. Being in the middle of winter in Belarus - a country with long traditions of winter sports - is very nice itself. Especially to stand on the ice of this wonderful arena. I noted the highest level of sports infrastructure. Over the three days I have been to almost all the sports facilities: Minsk Arena, now Chizhovka Arena, the sports palace, the rowing channel and the shooting club. The European Olympic Committee will be happy to know that technically all facilities are ready to host the Games. You only have to organize everything right.

Why did Minsk receive the right to host the European Games?

Pierce O'Callaghan:
For many reasons. The President of the National Olympic Committee is your President, Alexander Lukashenko. Sport is very close to him. Belarus has collected many medals at the 1st European Games in Baku. You are full of enthusiasm. People here love the sport. The day before I was at the match Dinamo Minsk vs CSKA and thousands of people watched hockey, so we know that sport is a passion for all Belarusians.

I must say that the great atmosphere here at the Christmas tournament is great despite the fact that it is for amateurs. Do you think its holding somewhat helped Belarus host the IIHF WM in 2014?

Pierce O'Callaghan:
I think the whole world is aware of how professionally Minsk can organize competitions at different levels after the IIHF WM. People here appreciate spectacular sport. Belarus has excellent opportunities, sports facilities.

All this gives us confidence that the European Games in Minsk will be very successful.

You and your family moved to Baku for two years at the time of preparation for I European games. Are you going to come to Minsk?

Pierce O'Callaghan:
Maybe. Who knows... If I am invited to come, I'll be happy to stay here and help in the organization of the Games.

But I have a feeling that your staff is able to organize everything at a high level.

There is no need to invite foreign experts.

By the way, it is so nice to see you in a Belarusian jacket. Does it help in this frost?

Pierce O'Callaghan:
Oh yeah... I am very proud, because when we choose the organizer of the Games, we need to be part of the same family.

And I absolutely feel like a family with the Belarusian NOC.

So I am proud to be wearing this jacket.

You have the Belarusian ornament on your jacket. What could be a symbol of II European Games?

Pierce O'Callaghan:
Yes, for such large sporting events an identification or logo is very important. I think Belarus will choose something traditional, but at the same time something that will be reminiscent of Europe.

We were saddened by the situation with the head of the European Olympic Committees Patrick Hickey. And even the President of Belarus spoke about the artificiality of the charges against him. Mr. Hickey returned to Ireland, he is your countryman. How is he now doing?

Pierce O'Callaghan:

During four months he could not leave Brazil. He is 71 years.

It was very difficult for him. He has four children and many grandchildren. For them, too, it was hard not to see him. Now he has returned to his family and is recovering. He asked me to thank President Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus and the NOC for the solidarity and support they have shown in a difficult situation.

Politics always goes next to sport... Will the European Games differ in this respect?

Pierce O'Callaghan:
Yes, it is a fact. Even if some sports functionaries say no, we do not mix politics and sport. This is not true. It also leads to doping scandals in sport. During the European Games we want to focus exclusively on sport.

Did you think about the winter version of the European Games? It would be great to see them on the same ice.

Pierce O'Callaghan, sports director of the European Olympic Committees:
This is being discussed. Many National Olympic Committees have proposed the concept of European Winter Games.

European Games in Minsk will be very successful, Pierce O'Callaghan says