European Olympic Committees (EOC) President Janez Kocijančič has come away from a meeting this week with Alexander Lukashenko, the Belarus President, convinced that Minsk 2019 has the full backing of the country and the Government.
Addressing officials here in Minsk as the second Coordination Commission meeting for what will be the second edition of the European Games got underway, Kocijančič observed that, as President also of the Belarus National Olympic Committee, Lukashenko was “very much devoted to sport".
“I came from this meeting convinced this country is entirely behind this project,” Kocijančič said.
The EOC President also urged organisers to “be aware of the significance of these Games".
“We are bringing the expression of the European idea,” he said.
“Sport is a human activity that opens doors and windows to make other collaboration easier.”
His comments came as Spyros Capralos, Coordination Commission chairman, warned of the need to shift up a gear, as the Games project moves from its planning into its operations phase.
“Time is our biggest enemy,” he said, observing that there were just 289 days left until the Opening Ceremony in the refurbished 22,000-capacity Dinamo Stadium.
“These days fly…Time goes very fast.”
Stating that the Commission was “here to help” and to “bring added value to what you are doing”, Capralos warned his hosts that “you need to put quicker decision-making mechanisms".
“You need to give people authorisation to take decisions,” he said.
“We are pragmatic people and we need to go straight to business.”
Capralos said the Commission would be seeking updates on a range of issues including communications strategy and crisis management, promotion of the event, domestic broadcasting arrangements, domestic sponsorship and timing and scoring.
In a short introduction, George Katulin, chief executive of the Organising Committee, said the body had made “major progress” since the last Commission meeting.
There were, he said, “no critical delays or gaps that could impact our Games delivery.”
Igor Petrishenko, Deputy Prime Minister of Belarus, spoke of the administration’s determination to “make the venues as great as possible to showcase our country and its characteristics”.