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8 September 2017European Games in Belarus: Details from the prime minister's report

It has been virtually one year since Belarus claimed the right to host the 2019 European Games. The year has proven that there are no unresolvable problems. The statement was made by Prime Minister of Belarus, chairman of the national organizing committee Andrei Kobyakov during the expanded-participation session of the Executive Committee of the National Olympic Committee held by Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko on 7 September, BelTA has learned.



The prime minister assured that the national organizing committee will take all the necessary measures to properly prepare for the European Games.

Every member of the committee has been assigned most significant areas of work starting with public catering and ending with security. The opening ceremony of the Second European Games is scheduled for 21 June 2019 while the closing ceremony is scheduled for 30 June 2019.

Terms of the contract on hosting the Second European Games
The draft contract was discussed virtually at every session of the national organizing committee. All the government agencies concerned were invited to contribute to this work, too. The document was signed on 1 September 2017.

The European Olympic Committees made considerable financial concessions. In particular, Belarus will not have to pay a $20 million fee for hosting the European Games. Apart from that, the European Olympic Committees will pay for flights of athletes and officials, accommodation and catering of representatives of national Olympic committees, and the operation of hospitality zones.

Revenues from international television broadcasting will be evenly distributed. Belarus is authorized to independently sell 30% of the advertising space. Revenues from tickets and from selling souvenirs in Belarus will remain at the country's disposal.

The number of participants
Over 4,000 athletes, about 2,000 coaches and support staff, representing official delegations from 50 European national Olympic committees, are expected to come to Belarus for the Second European Games.

Belarus will also welcome about 650 international judges, 1,000 representatives of foreign mass media, 100 presidents and secretaries general of European federations of various sports, and a large number of high-ranking government officials from various countries.

The sport component
During the European Games Belarus will host competitions in 15 sports. As many as 189 sets of medals will be awarded in 23 events. Licenses for taking part in the 32nd Summer Olympics, which will take place in Tokyo in 2020, will be awarded in ten sports.

Upon instructions of the national organizing committee a cyclogram has been put together to properly balance the workload of sport facilities. The directorate for hosting the European Games assured that there will be no need for additional facilities and every day will be evenly filled with sport events. All the sport landmarks of Minsk will be utilized for the Second European Games, including Minsk Arena and Chizhovka Arena, sport palaces in Pobeditelei Avenue and in the Uruchye district, the Dinamo Stadium, and many other facilities.

It is necessary to finish building seven facilities and reconstructing one facility prior to the European Games. Minsk's money is used to build the Dinamo Stadium and a rhythmic gymnastics center. The former will host the opening ceremony and the closing ceremony as well as competitions in track-and-field athletics. Loans from the Development Bank of the Republic of Belarus are used to build four facilities: a shooting complex named after Marshall Timoshenko, a multifunctional gym in Filimonova Street, a national applied research center for sport, and the second hall of residence in the Student Village complex. Apart from that, China's aid will be used to build another hall of residence in the complex.

When routes for bicycle racing are agreed, work will begin to prepare the relevant motorways for these competitions.

Progress in work at these facilities is constantly monitored by the central government, stressed Andrei Kobyakov.

Accommodation for participants and guests of the European Games
The Student Village complex will be used to accommodate athletes and coaches — over 6,000 people in total. Once two new halls of residence are built, the entire complex will be able to accommodate 7,800 people.

The halls of residence are being brought into compliance with requirements of the European Olympic Committees. With this in mind the Education Ministry is adjusting the curricula of several Belarusian universities.

VIP guests, accredited participants of the games — about 2,800 in total — will be accommodated in fitting hotels. Hotels will also be able to offer accommodation to nearly 10,000 fans and tourists. Apartments for rent will offer accommodation on top of that.

Besides, accommodation will be made available in Minsk Oblast. Hotels, motels, sanatoriums, and farm tourism estates in the region will be able to accommodate 18,200 people. If necessary, halls of residence of higher education institutions can be converted into temporary hostels. Eighty-four such hostels (the number does not include the Student Village) will be able to accommodate 41,000 tourists.

“Baku welcomed 28,000 foreign tourists during the European Games. The highest number of tourists accommodated in hotels per day during the 2014 IIHF World Championship in Minsk was around 20,000. So, we will manage to accommodate visitors,” the prime minister said.

He stressed that Belarus will keep prices for hotels and food affordable, just like the country did in 2014. The relevant obligation has been set forth in the host city contract. Minsk City Hall has already started working towards this goal upon instruction of the national organizing committee.

Catering
Participants of the Second European Games will have meals in a temporary pavilion with the total area of 8,000m2 near the Student Village. Special structures will be erected and fitted with high-tech equipment, furniture, electricity and water, air conditioning, sewerage system, and other kinds of necessary equipment.

The authorities are now working out the conditions and requirements for the prospective catering company in accordance with international standards. The work has begun to examine dining facilities in Minsk's Moskovsky District, which have large kitchens and modern equipment. Three facilities will be selected to serve as primary kitchens for the food service provider.

“It is vital for us to provide athletes with high-quality nutrition and to keep the food clean from any supplements that can be classified as prohibited in sport,” Andrei Kobyakov underlined. The work has started to select the agricultural companies that will supply products for athletes. These organizations will have to undergo different tests and doping control. Their products will be checked for compliance with safety requirements.

All the sport facilities involved in the competitions are being closely examined in order to create the necessary conditions to provide high-quality food and retail services for officials and fans inside and outside the arenas.

Eleven fan zones will be arranged near the sport venues where the competitions will take place. They will see a wide range of national Belarusian dishes and souvenirs along with an entertainment program.

A program has been designed to train personnel at food facilities and places of accommodation. Teaching foreign languages is part of the program.

The National Bank of Belarus is taking a number of measures to develop the system of non-cash payments using electronic payment documents. This will help provide high-quality services to guests and participants of the European Games as they make cash and non-cash transactions.

Transport services
The organizers are also busy figuring out how many vehicles will be required to transport the athletes and accredited guests, taking into account the games' schedule. It is expected that BelGee cars, MAZ and Neman buses will be put into service in order to promote domestic manufacturers.

In the future, these vehicles will be handed over to municipal mass transit system operators.

Transport services for Minsk residents and guests
The fleet of Minsk's public transport will be renovated. The transport is expected to demonstrate the games' signature style. “The competitions should not paralyze the city life. We will analyze the best possible routes to transport passengers, cargoes, and we will decide on the proper traffic management,” Andrei Kobyakov added.

A comprehensive plan of transport services for the competitions is being drafted. It will take into account needs of participants and official guests of the European Games as well as tourists and Minsk residents.

A session of the national organizing committee is scheduled for October 2017. It is meant to discuss this matter in detail and come up with a final decision on the number of transport vehicles and their use.

The national airport
According to the prime minister, an interdepartmental working group has been set up to analyze and address the matters related to the quality of transport services, including personnel training, foreign language proficiency, prompt attention to passengers, their luggage, and the like.

Security
The government has also worked out a system of measures to ensure security during the European Games. There are a few focus areas, including the maintenance of public security, improvement of border and customs control.

A special operations center uniting the representatives of all law enforcement bodies will be set up during the European Games. It will coordinate the activities of involved bodies in case of emergencies 24/7.

The venues of the European Games, places of residence of the participants have been inspected by the commissions of the Interior Ministry, the Emergencies Ministry, and the State Security Committee. Access control procedures and joint algorithms of work in emergency situations are being developed.

Authorized bodies have also assessed assets and tools, which will be required for ensuring security during the European Games.

They have analyzed the condition of Belarusian border checkpoints and determined ways to improve them. “Measures will be taken to facilitate customs and border procedures for the foreign participants and guests of the Games,” Andrei Kobyakov said.

In his words, security is a key issue. Government bodies will get Br9.6 million from the state budget in 2018 for the resolution of these tasks. Plans have been made to purchase communication devices, specialized equipment. The amount of money can be increased if necessary.

Medical services
The government has already determined what has to be done in the run-up to the European Games. This pertains to the provision of healthcare services during the competitions, training sessions, accommodation and catering, etc.

There will be first-aid stations at competition venues. There will be enough beds in hospitals and clinics.

An ambulance station will provide healthcare services to athletes at the Student Village.

Volunteers
The concept for the volunteers program has been developed, including accommodation, catering, transportation, and outfits.

Volunteers will participate in accreditation, welcome and farewell of athletes, escort, and work with fans, tourists. They will be involved in the opening and closing ceremonies of the European Games. Work is underway to select volunteers among university students. “The database already lists 1,500 candidates. There are plans to use up to 6,000 people, including 1,000 on standby,” the prime minister said.

Meals, accommodation, transport, outfits will be provided to volunteers free of charge.

Information support
The concept of the brand of the European Games for home and foreign audiences has been developed. The slogan “Bright Year, Bright You”. There will be versions in Russian and Belarusian.

The logo of the European Games is the fern flower.

“The concept and the slogan were highly commended by experts and the EOC,” Andrei Kobyakov said.

To involve more people into the process of preparing for the European Games, a contest has been announced to create a mascot. The start to the contest was given during the Kupalye festival (Alexandria Gathers Friends) on 7 July of this year. The results will be announced in November 2017.

The main media center for the European Games will be deployed in the Indoor Football Arena. It will also host the reference and information service for journalists, a meals zone and a press conference zone.

A tender to choose a television broadcasting company is underway. The winner will be announced on 12 September 2017. Further talks will follow.

“Belarusian TV channels will be involved under sub-contracts. It is an opportunity for them to update the equipment (the acquisition of four mobile television stations is under consideration) and gain experience of covering a major sport event,” the prime minister said.

According to him, technology is one of the key points. It is necessary to develop and implement a common information technology platform ahead of the European Games.

The sport component includes accreditation, registration, accounting, processing of results. According to the contract, the accreditation system will be provided by the EOC. Supplier is SwissTime Company.

This also involves the coordination of all activities: personnel management, procurement, facilities, volunteers, transport, logistics, services, accommodation, meals, tickets, and other things.

Another element is interaction with the end user, namely fans and tourists. A dedicated webpage, mobile apps will serve this purpose.

“A tender to select the contractor has been announced. We have taken the experience of Baku and Sochi into account. The results of the tender will be announced on 5 October 2017,” Andrei Kobyakov informed.

Ticketing program
According to the contract, Belarus will receive all the ticketing revenue. 15% of tickets will be made available free of charge to the EOC. The ticketing program will be developed by the directorate together with the unified ticket operator. To select the operator, the directorate announced the tender, which will close on 1 October 2017.

The opening and closing ceremonies
“Several foreign companies have approached us with the intention to organize these key ceremonies on a turn-key basis. But the cost of their proposals is quite high. In this regard, the national organizing committee decided to involve a foreign company only as a consultant,” the prime minister said.

Belarusian specialists will take care of the creative part. The TV channel ONT is likely to do that. foreign companies will be able to rent out technical equipment and offer services of specialists, who will maintain the equipment.

The venue for the ceremonies is the Dinamo Stadium in Minsk. They will last for up to three hours.

“The concept of both ceremonies shall reflect the historical, natural, cultural, sporting and other features and modern achievements of Belarus through the prism of the Kupalye holiday and shall match the slogan and the logo of the European Games,” Andrei Kobyakov said.

Financing
An interest-free NOC loan to the tune of Br900,000 has been issued to the directorate for the resolution of pending issues in 2017. The directorate has already calculated the volume of financing for 2018-2019. A corresponding draft decree will be submitted to the head of state once it is approved by the national organizing committee.

The total volume of financing will be calculated in several stages. A financing committee led by the finance minister will accumulate requests for additional financing needed for the efficient training of athletes. The central government will thoroughly analyze all the requests and the distribution of funds to prevent violations, the prime minister emphasized.

As much as Br34.7 million from the 2018 state budget has been allocated for high-priority measures. These figures can be revised due to budget adjustment or when the 2019 budget is planned.