On September 7 (Wednesday) a bright and colorful celebration ceremony dedicated to honor and support members of the Russian National Paralympic Team, who were unjustly banned from the participation in the Summer Paralympic Games in Rio, took place at the Moscow entertainment the Center Krokys City Hall.
The Russian Paralympic athletes had won 266 quotas, our National Team members were supposed to represent eighteen sporting programs, that is four more, comparing to the Paralympic Games in London four years ago, where we represented only twelve of them. But unfortunately, due to a hasty and improvident decision of the IPC executives, all Russian Paralympic athletes were prohibited to participate in the most important sporting event of the last four years.
The celebration ceremony was opened by the famous sport commentators Olga Bogoslovskay and Dmitriy Guberniev, by introducing members of the Russian National Paralympic Team, those athletes, who during a fair and honest competitions, defended their honor and rights to be the participants of such significant sporting event, as the International Paralympic Games. The Paralympians were met with standing ovations from the official representatives, their colleagues and funs as well as from all public who, came to demonstrate their support and recognition and encouragement. After welcoming introduction, athletes took their places at the auditorium.
The Russian Minister of Sport Vitaliy Mytko and the President of the Russian Paralympic Committee Vladimir Lukin, were invaded to the stage and spoke to athletes and to the public.
“Today’s solemn event is the contribution to our Paralympic athletes, whose endless efforts, hard work, outstanding courage and faith in their abilities - is an outstanding and inspiring example to all” stated Russian Government representative. “Traditionally, the Russian National Team is among the strongest teams in the world. I am confident to say that at the forthcoming competitions you are as usual, will demonstrate mastership, dedication, stamina aimed will achieve a highest results and victory. Delight your fans with fair and exiting sporting combat. Always be faithful to the Sport, strengthen authority of your Motherland. I would like to wish all of you; wellbeing and prosperity, great spirits, best of luck and success at everything.” The Minister also pointed out that “We all know about, hard work and efforts were put by you, your coaches, your friends and relatives, support of your regions and the Russian Paralympic Committee toward preparations for Games in Rio. We tremendously regret that today, we are not able to be a part of such outstanding and important international Sport Festival. But, I believe that these obstacles are temporary, and members of international sporting community will take necessary steps toward returning you to the big Paralympic Family”. The Minister also said that State Government made a decision about “ encouragement of Paralympic athletes at the same level as if they were competing at the Paralympic Games, considering that they will display results equivalent to the world standards to which they are prepared”.
The President of the Russian Paralympic Committee Vladimir Lukin noted, that support ceremony is the “Celebration of formation and consolidation of the Russian Paralympic Movement, which can’t be accompanied by only success, avoiding a rocky road on the way.” “This is celebration of overcoming difficulties and obstacles, of a new pride and determination to no matter what, continue our path of development and formation. The process began in 1996 and continues as of today, our determined rapid movement forward created an envy, which resulted in unjustified verdict”. But President of the Russian Paralympic Committee is confidently said that “we will be able to overcome these obstacles”.
“We had created a very strong Paralympic Movement within our country, which would like to be among the leaders” Lukin continued, “But, our main task is to motivate people with disabilities toward diversified ways of lives. I believe we will move forward, our country and entire world are looking at us, are proud of us and applauding us. Our athletes will receive applauds at the future competitions, in which we will defiantly participate. We send our greeting to our fellow athletes in Rio, and wish them best of luck at the Games. We are one big Family, we hope Games would be a huge success and to all of our friends, we wish to have a wonderful celebration, they deserved. We deeply regret that we can’t be there and share all that with you. But, we will be together again. We would like to be together. Just look at how all are united in their support of Paralympic Athletes”.
Following the speeches, the famous Russian singer Larisa Dolina performed the Russian National Anthem, to the celebrate the Opening of alternative competitions for the Russian National Paralympic Athletes.
After that the Head Coach of the Russian National 7x7 Football Team (winner of 2012 Paralympic Games and World Champions of 2015) Aftandil Baramidze was invided to the stage and gave a short but very emotional speech, “We are living in wonderful country – Russia. We have a wonderful President of the Russian Federation – Vladimir Putin. Who is always ready to help to all Paralympic Sport, just as he did right now. On behalf of myself and of my fellows Paralympic athletes, I would like to express our sincere and genuine to our great President. Believe me, we will be back, we are defiantly will be back. The Russian Banner will be highest and Russian Anthem will be played during all major international events”
Baramidze was followed by many times Paralympic world champion in swimming, Denis Tarasov, who said that “I would like to express my gratitude to all who supported us during these difficult times. I would like to wish all athletes and their coaches, best of luck during competitions. But most of all to have a patience. Future will not be easy, but together we will manage.”
Elite Olympic athletes, numerous medals and prize winners, such as Alexander Karelin, Svetlana Romashina, Alla Shishkina and Alexander Patchkevich, took stage and provided words of support and encouragement to their colleagues Paralympic athletes in their very difficult lives situations.
The Celebration Program was followed by performances from world champions in acrobatic rock and roll, famous Russian blind singer Diana Gurskaya and group Desimolki as well as from second place winner of Eurovision, famous singer Sergey Lazarev.
“ I am instantly happy to be here today and to be presented with an opportunity to provide support to our Paralympic Team” the famous singer said. “Also, I would like to add that you do really have a support of the entire country. To all of us, you are great outstanding example of courage, determination and dedication. I am sure, that you all will act, to what happened with an inherent dignity. There will be a lot of starts in front of you, and I wish you all only outstanding victories in the future. I am sure, justice will prevail, and the support of the entire country that you have now, always be with you.” Sergey said, at the end of his performance.
The Solemn Ceremony was ended by a touching composition by other famous Russian Singer, Polina Gagarina, who said “I was barely able to hold back the tears while I was singing. I would like to thank all of you for your strength of spirit and hard work. You are not along now – there are millions of us. With all my heart and soul, I am with you and I would like to thank you for all you had done”.
However, this evening did not ended with final performance on the stage. Athletes and coaches for a long time enjoyed cozy and intimate atmosphere of the Krokys City Hall. They spoke with their colleagues and press, took pictures. But, most of all, they enjoyed support from a thousands of fans, who came from all part of our enormous country, to meet our athletes, to give them support and encouragement. Actually, too give them their love and warmth of their hearts.
The Press Office of the Russian Paralympic Committee