It is a great honor for Belarus to host The Match Europe v USA, Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko said as he met with President of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) Sebastian Coe and President of the European Athletic Association (European Athletics) Svein Arne Hansen on 9 September, BelTA has learned.
“You have become true friends of Belarus, I am saying this sincerely,” the president stressed welcoming the guests. The head of state thanked the presidents of the International Association of Athletics Federations and the European Athletic Association for the decision to hold the match in Belarus. “You have overcome prejudice which existed in relation to Belarus some time ago and did the impossible when you promised to do your best to hold this event, which will take place today and tomorrow, this gigantic match between Team USA and Team Europe here, in Belarus,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.
“It is an honor for any country to host such events, for us as well,” the Belarusian leader continued. “I know I should be grateful to you. Believe me, we have never been in big debt, we will definitely respond with kindness to your care, first of all, for the development of athletics.”
Aleksandr Lukashenko praised IAAF's anti-doping efforts. “Your advice on the fight against doping, your proposals to host high-profile events, the participation of Belarusians in them are precious,” the president added.
“If you decide to hold the European Athletics Championships or stages of various competitions in Belarus, you will never regret. Please remember that you have good and reliable friends in Belarus,” the head of state emphasized.
He also mentioned the topic which was previously discussed - the establishment of a regional athletics center in Belarus. “You should know that we absolutely support the idea and are ready to start the work as soon as possible, we have all resources for it.”
The president assured that Belarus supports Sebastian Coe's candidacy at the forthcoming IAAF election.
The sides exchanged presents at the end of the meeting. The head of state presented exclusive chocolate sets to the guests. Aleksandr Lukashenko received a traditional Swiss bell from the European Athletic Association which is headquartered in Lausanne.
The International Association of Athletics Federations is the international governing body for the sport of athletics uniting 214 countries. Founded in 1912, it is headquartered in Monaco.
The European Athletic Association is the European governing body uniting 51 countries. It was founded in 1932.
The Match Europe v USA will take place in Minsk on 10 September.