The official opening of the Sixth International Conference of Ministers and Senior Officials Responsible for Physical Education and Sport (MINEPS VI) took place today in Kazan. Around 700 delegates from more than 100 member states of UNESCO, as well as representatives of international sports organisations are attending the conference.
Ahead of the plenary, Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation, Vitaly Mutko, President of the Republic of Tatarstan, Rustam Minnikhanov, UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Social and Human Sciences, Nada Al-Nashif, Minister of Sport of the Russian Federation, Pavel Kolobkov, and other officials visited the exhibition, featuring the stands dedicated to the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, 2019 Winter Universiade in Krasnoyarsk, WorldSkills 2019, Russian National GTO Health and Fitness Programme, and Children of Asia International Sports Games. Director General of the Directorate for Sport and Social Projects, Azat Kadyrov, gave a tour around the display stands of the exhibition.
The plenary opened with President of Russia Vladimir Putin’s welcome address, which was read out by Assistant to the President of Russia, Igor Levitin: “Today Russia is rightfully among the world’s leaders in the development of physical education and sport. I'm confident that the MINEPS conference will become a successful platform for discussing key sports-related challenges. We are grateful to UNESCO for a great honour to host such a conference at home, in Russia, in the Republiс of Tatarstan. I would like to wish all the delegates good luck and professional achievements.”
Also, UNESCO Director General, Irina Bokova, welcomed the conference participants in a video address:
“To begin with, I would like to convey my congratulations to the Government of the Russian Federation and Government of the Republic of Tatarstan. Quite recently, a decision was made to include the Assumption Cathedral and Monastery of the town-island of Sviyazhsk in UNESCO’s World Heritage List. Together with the Bolgar Historical and Archaeological Complex and Kazan Kremlin, the town-island of Sviyazhsk serves as a symbol of tolerance and rapport in Tatarstan. Unfortunately, I cannot be present at the conference due to a number of reasons. However, I believe and hope that in Kazan you will be able to adopt relevant decisions on issues existing in the world of sports. UNESCO has always gone hand in hand with sport, as sport plays an important role in achieving the aims of sustainable development. UNESCO has always advocated for inclusive access to sport, protection of the integrity of sport, and support of the positive ideas of sport.”
Later on, the floor was given to other speakers present.
“With all my heart I welcome you to Russia. Nowadays, the capital of Tatarstan, Kazan, occupies a special place in the world of sports; it’s one of the global sports capitals. In the last ten years, Kazan played host to major sporting events. Among them are the 2013 Summer Universiade, 2015 FINA World Championships, as well as world championships in fencing, judo and curling… Quite recently, matches of the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup were played here. Kazan is developing in many respects thanks to sport. It is a perfect example of how sporting events leave legacy after they come to an end: both tangible one (incredible venues and infrastructure) and intangible one (possibilities that children and young people gain),” said Vitaly Mutko.
“Russia has always played an exclusive role in the sport development but one should understand that the battle for real sport values such as the purity of sport, its integrity and inclusive access can be waged only through joint efforts. At the same time, bringing up challenging issues for discussion, we need to maintain objectivity of our statements. The MINEPS conference that begins today in Kazan should serve this purpose well,” he said with confidence.
“Generosity and hospitality are Tatarstan’s trademarks. We are thankful to our country’s leadership and UNESCO for entrusting us with the right to host the MINEPS conference and we hope that it will be held successfully. Our republic has always been committed to sport. Kazan is a unique sports capital of Russia that boasts extensive experience of hosting major international tournaments. But whenever we were building a big sports venue or were organising a major sporting event, we always did our best to keep in mind the legacy and efficient use of our venues in the future, their accessibility and availability for all groups of population. During years of involvement in the world of sports, our republic has built solid partnership relations with various international organisations, and our cooperation with them is quite productive. It’s here in Kazan that the institution of sports volunteering was established, and quite recently the first ever FISU Volunteer Leaders Academy was held. Together with FINA, we plan to organise the aquatic sports promotion and development centre in Kazan. Under FIFA’s aegis, we hosted some of the matches of the Confederations Cup and next year we are about to organise the FIFA World Cup. It will be a special event for us but taking into consideration the infrastructure that we have here in Kazan I’m confident that the football tournament will be staged to the highest standard. At this conference, we would like to share Tatarstan’s experience with the world and to get to know other countries' best practices,” Tatarstan President Rustam Minnikhanov said to the conference participants.
“I would like to say a special thanks to the organisers of the conference – the Directorate for Sports and Social Projects. This young and ambitious team of professionals has more than once proved in practice that it is able to deal with all types of projects,” the President said.
"It's important to develop and support the key values that sport promotes. They are mutual respect, supportiveness, teamwork, honesty and sincerety. These values should be promoted in the global community, and sport is a major asset for us in it. The Council of Europe has always strived to become a regulator that could consolidate the forces of all countries and organisations," said Deputy Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Gabriella Battaini-Dragoni.
“The atmosphere at MINEPS VI is encouraging because I see a lot of people here who are inspired by common ideas and common goals. The potential of sport, especially such a popular sport as football, should not be underestimated,” said FIFA Secretary General, Fatma Samoura.
The MINEPS VI conference will run from July 13 to 15. MINEPS conferences have been organised by UNESCO since 1976. The key objective of MINEPS is the evaluation of international events in the sphere of physical education and sport, and development of strategies that comply with the principles established in the International Charter of Physical Education and Sport, the Olympic Charter and other international documents.
MINEPS VI was intended to analyse the implementation of intents specified in the revised International Charter of Physical Education, Physical Activity and Sport (2015) and the Declaration of Berlin, signed during MINEPS V in 2013, and agree on a plan of actions aimed at putting these documents into practice.
Media and Communications Department of Directorate for Sports and Social Projects