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President Antonio Urso, guest of the Russian Federation for a series of International Conferences at the "Russia country of Sport"

President Antonio Urso, guest of the Russian Federation for a series of International Conferences at the "Russia country of Sport"

  • 01 Feb, 2010


On Thursday October 22nd last, the “Russia Country of Sport” Convention was held in Kazan. Antonio Urso, President of the European Weightlifting Federation attended the Convention, which was organised by the Russian government and chaired by Vitali Mutko, Minister of Sport, Tourism and Youth Politics. 
The aim of the Convention was to set up a Round Table, including Presidents of National and International Federations, to address the matters relating to the future of Russian sport and international collaborations.
Minister Mutko outlined the medium and long-term strategies of Russian sport regarding both finances and programs. In particular, he underlined the extraordinary effort that the government has made in three different sectors: technician training, the fight against doping and the building of a new generation sports facility for youth sports. This strategy may be put in force thanks to the collaboration with the Minister of Education and to investments, which will amount to 70 billion dollars by 2020.
After his speech, Mutko asked the guests to represent the strong points and the criticality of relations between Russian sport and the International Federations.
The first to take the floor were the President of the World Boxing Federation  (AIBA), Ching-Kuo Wu and the Olympic Champion, Vitaly Smirnov IOC member and Sergey Bubka, member of the IOC. Next up was President Urso who spoke of the historic value of the Russian Weightlifting Federation and the prestige that it holds not only in Europe but also in the entire world of weightlifting. The President thanked the Russian authorities for inviting him and for giving him this extraordinary opportunity to speak in front of the World’s sporting powers. He also stressed the importance of making the most of these opportunities to address the “Doping” issue and to examine the causes and the possible strategies to adopt in order to defeat it. Urso brought to light an aspect that is very often neglected –the manner in which the media treats the doping issue. In fact, very often an impartial view is taken; there is a distinct difference in the approach based on the positive cases in question: it often happens that journalists treat a positive case in a more popular sport differently to that of a so-called minor sport. “This, - said President Urso, - is a bad approach to take when dealing with young people who may subsequently interpret sport as being permissive in some fields and therefore think nothing of using harmful substances which destroy the ethics of sport and its Olympic spirit. This kind of media impact can sometimes be negative and disrupt any anti-doping campaign enacted by the same Federations”.  
Urso’s thoughts on the matter were much appreciated and shared by Minister Mutko who gave his consent to take a common action, of fundamental importance in any anti-doping strategy.
The Russian national TV “Russia Today”, was particularly interested in Urso’s reflections. So much so that they asked him to explain how, in his opinion, it is possible to improve this relationship and what are the consequences on youth sport.
At the end of the Convention, the President of the Tatarstan Republic, Mintimer Shaimiev, invited all the Forum delegates to a Gala dinner. President Urso had the chance to meet President Shaimiev and the Tatarstan Minister of Sport, Mutko, and discussed the matter of the 2011 Senior European Championships in Kazan.  
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At 14.30 on Friday October 23rd 2009, the opening ceremony of the “Russia Country of Sport” Forum took place in the presence of the President of the Russian Federation, Dmitri Medvedev, the President of the European Weightlifting Federation (EWF), Antonio Urso and the EWF General Secretary, Marino Ercolani Casadei. After having thanked all participants, the Russian leader, Medvedev once more underlined the amazing financial efforts and projects that his country is undertaking in favour of Sport, a matter of great priority for the entire Russian society.“This effort - explained President Medvedev – should not just be considered an endowment of Russia but our aim is that it be conceived as an actual way of approaching sport both by International bodies which regulate it and those who practice sport in other nations. Russia intends to invest a great amount in this project, in particular in the fight against doping. It will be implemented by means of a program with tight restrictions, parallely sustained by the professional growth of all its components who in turn will ensure and guarantee this growth and development. It is our intention - continued Medvedev  - to invest in young people by providing them with specific facilities which will guarantee them natural sporting and social growth”. 
At the end of the ceremony, Medvedev had a private meeting with the Presidents of the International Federations, among which President Urso, along with ten other international Presidents, to discuss the programmes of growth and future cooperation between Russia and the International and Continental Federations. At the end of the protocol phase, in a warm and friendly atmosphere, President Medvedev chatted with President Urso confessing that in fact he knows a great deal about weightlifting as he himself was a lifter for two years during University studies: “I have always loved this sport”- he confessed -. “I find it so fascinating and try to follow it as best I can”. On hearing this from one of the world’s most representative men, Urso was indeed honoured and replied:  “I am sure that all the weightlifting world will be happy to hear this news”. 
President Medvedev inquired about information on the development of our sport and was curious to know how things have changed since his time as an athlete. President Urso concluded by pointing out how important this sport is for Russia in terms of results: “Russia represents the utmost level in this Olympic sport, not only in Europe but all over the world”, stated President Urso, confirming that besides actual results, Russia boasts an excellent managerial level, with one of the EWF Vice Presidents being in fact, the Russian President, Yuri Sandalov.
At the end of the private meeting, President Medvedev, with the President of the Tartastan Republic, Mintimer Shaimiev, welcomed the delegates to a Gala dinner to celebrate friendship and sport.
Another reason for President Urso and Secretary Casadei’s visit to Kazan was to check the situation of the 2011 European Senior Championships organization. Organization. The facilities and the hotel are of excellent quality, respecting the typical technology and logistics protocols for an event of this calibre.  The President of the Tatarstan Republic assured his personal interest to guarantee that this event would take place in Kazan. We are confident that Kazan will be an excellent choice for 2011 and we expect further information from the Russian Federation in Minsk in 2010.