Kamil Bortniczuk’s words came as he addressed the 1st European Congress of Sport and Tourism in the southern Polish mountain resort of Zakopane on Tuesday, Polish state news agency PAP reported.
‘Putin’s regime used sport to boost its international standing’
In a speech to mark the opening of the three-day event, Bortniczuk said: “Sport has been used for years by Putin’s regime, by the Russian regime, to build that regime’s standing in the world.”
The Polish sports minister added: “Sport has been used to buy seats on the boards of sports federations, for money, mainly from Russian state companies. It has been used to weave the successes of Russian athletes into the regime’s propaganda targeted directly at Russian society. And it has also been used to legitimise the horrors that Russia is perpetrating in Ukraine.”
“We’re living in a time of war, which has left its mark on tourism ... but also on sport,” Bortniczuk told his audience.
Sanctions on Russia and Belarus, shooting sports, new sports facilities
Bortniczuk said that his ministry had “fought to make sure that sanctions were imposed on Russian and Belarusian sport.”
He said: “Few nations in Europe know Russians and what they’re capable of during an armed conflict as well as we do, and that is why we, Polish people, have such a big responsibility to make the international community aware of what is going on in Ukraine. Today, the world is speaking with our voice.”
Bortniczuk noted that after Putin invaded Ukraine, his ministry successfully lobbied for Russia to be stripped of its role as the host of this year’s FIVB Volleyball Men's World Championships, and for Poland and Slovenia to co-host the tournament instead.
He also mentioned his ministry’s initiative to train the public in shooting sports, noting that “several thousand people have received training in weapons use,” as public interest skyrocketed amid Russia’s war on Ukraine. He said the programme would continue.
Bortniczuk presented a new nationwide talent-spotting initiative for schoolchildren and outlined his sports ministry’s PLN 2 billion (EUR 420 million) programme to build 1,000 multi-purpose sports halls around the country by the end of 2024.
European Congress of Sport and Tourism
The 1st European Congress of Sport and Tourism has brought together sports officials, representatives from the tourism industry, business executives and local government officials to discuss topics ranging from the prospects for sport and tourism in Poland and internationally, new technologies and the role of sports in a time of war, the PAP news agency reported.
Co-organised by the Polish sports ministry and the government of Poland's southern Małopolskie province, the event is being held under the auspices of President Andrzej Duda, who is set to attend the conference later this week, according to officials.
The 1st European Congress of Sport and Tourism runs until Thursday.
Tuesday was day 237 of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Source: PAP, kongres-sbn.pl, przegladsportowy.onet.pl