President Victor Yushchenko, First Deputy Chief-of-Staff Ivan Vasyunyk and Youth and Sports Minister Yuriy Pavlenko met with Ukraine's Olympic team that will represent Ukraine at the 2006 Winter Olympics in the Italian city of Turin, President's press office reported.

The Head of State emphasized the significance of the Olympic Games and remarked that this competition of the international community combined physical struggle and desire to promote profound human values.

“I think humanity no longer looks at the Olympics through the prism of sports. I think we all see the games consolidate and change the world and strengthen nations,” he said.

Addressing the athletes, Yushchenko stressed they were all going on a vital and “extremely responsible” mission to represent the independent country with “century long traditions” to prove that we have gifted athletes that can win and professional coaches that can train them.

The President wished them Olympic triumphs in Turin.

“Millions of Ukrainians will watch you compete and they will pray for your efforts. I would like to ask you to preserve Ukraine in your hearts. I want you to fulfill all your abilities and wish you victories and eternal faith, love and hope,” he said.

Then the President asked if they were satisfied with their training conditions and wanted to learn about their most pressing problems. He particularly said over the past three years the Tysovets Olympic Center had been reequipped to meet their needs and demands and pledged to build and renovate other training grounds.

National Olympic Committee President Serhiy Bubka, who attended the meeting, told him there were not many problems to prepare the team for the Olympics and said they were all willing to fight. Today, at 6 PM, the athletes will take part in a send-off ceremony in Kyiv’s Independence Square. Bubka also said most of them were already in Turin preparing for the competitions.

The President said he had signed an order to establish a National Sports Council. He will personally head it. Its members are: Vitaly Klytchko, Serhiy Bubka, Ivan Vasyunyk, Vyacheslav Kyrylenko, Yuriy Pavlenko, Volodymyr Brynzak, and Oleksandr Volkov. He suggested that they should hold their first meeting after the Olympics. Yushchenko believes the council should formulate a plan to develop sports in 2006 and carry out specific programs.

“I am convinced in 2006 we will launch key sports programs,” he asserted.

Then the Head of State and his wife were presented with Ukraine’s Olympic uniform. The athletes asked Yushchenko to sign their flag, and he wrote: “I wish you success! Ukraine loves you and is proud of you! Win!”  


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