The meeting focused on promoting adaptive physical fitness and sport
Meeting on improving conditions for disabled people to participate in sport and fitness and promoting Paralympic and Deaflympic sports
Meeting on improving conditions for disabled people to participate in sport and fitness and promoting Paralympic and Deaflympic sports
Dmitry Medvedev: Hello, everyone. We’re meeting at the Oka training base today. It’s a nice facility, I’d even say an exemplary one. It’s great that the base exists. This is the first facility in the country created especially to cater to the needs of Paralympic athletes. And it meets the requirements of the Paralympic Committee. My colleagues and I have toured it, and it does look impressive, I should say – in terms of special-needs athletic sites and training standards as well as in terms of living standards, with rooms for wheelchair users being spacious enough and fitted out with all necessary equipment. I’ve just had a chat with athletes. They say they are quite happy with the conditions here. Part of the reason is probably that we have no other facilities on that high of a level yet. But things are about to change. It’s great that we’ve got this one already. And the Ministry of Sport deserves credit for committing itself to improving things in this sphere.
I suggest that we focus today on the development of Paralympic sports in general and on measures to make it more accessible and affordable to people with special physical needs. I’m referring here not just to our outstanding Paralympic athletes, widely acclaimed both at home and internationally (it’s no secret that Russians are renowned for their character around the world). I’m also talking about non-athletes with physical disabilities, for whom fitness and sport may be equally important. We have about 13 million disabled people in this country, and creating a comfortable and modern recreation and sport environment for them is of paramount importance. Specifically, this is about opportunities to attend sports clubs of all sorts and to take part in programmes that just help people keep fit.
Dmitry Medvedev: «Our ambition should be, by the year 2020, to increase six-fold the number of physically disabled people with access to fitness and sports activities. <...> To meet our targets, we’ve been working to implement a state strategy and programme – probably the first ever documents to prioritise work with disabled people [in Russia] – as well as the Accessible Environment state programme, running through the year 2015.»
We do take pride in the achievements of our Paralympic and Deaflympic national teams. They have earned each of their medals thanks to their incredible courage and spiritual strength. Of course, we should do our best to support our athletes and coaches, all the more so since many other people – with or without physical disabilities – take inspiration from the achievements of Paralympic and Deaflympic athletes. We all need such examples of strong will and character to inspire us, don’t we?
Let me remind you that only in ten of the country’s regions do we have training centres for Paralympic athletes at the moment. Just ten regions! And just 20% have sports facilities that are accessible to disabled people. This is not just low, it’s shameful, in my opinion. Over the past three years, the number of disabled people involved in physical fitness and sport has doubled. This is a notable increase. But according to the statistics that we have, that number accounts for just 3.5% of those who could go in for sports potentially. A mere 3.5%! Let’s look at the situation in neighbouring countries. Their statistics are markedly different.
Our ambition should be, by the year 2020, to increase six-fold the number of physically disabled people with access to fitness and sports activities. And everyone will be pleased if we manage to do more. To meet our targets, we’ve been working to implement a state strategy and programme – probably the first ever documents to prioritise work with disabled people [in Russia] – as well as the Accessible Environment state programme, running through the year 2015.
We annually release as much as we can in regional allocations for the advancement of basic Paralympic sports in the regions as well as for the support of organisations that can commit themselves to training reserve members for our national teams. That support should now be expanded to include Deaflympic sports.
Also, the Government has issued a resolution instituting equal crash prize for winning Paralympic and Deaflympic athletes as for Olympic winners.
Let me now identify several of our current priorities. One is the advancement of adaptive sports schools. Such schools now operate in just 15 of the country’s regions. Ideally all the regions should have this kind of institution. I’d like to bring this to the attention of all our regional heads. I’m going to sign related instructions. We should make sure that in all types of specialised schools, with a student body totalling 100,000 disabled children, work is being done according to modern requirements.
Dmitry Medvedev: «The Accessible Environment programme, which will run to the end of 2015. While developing a follow-up programme lasting into the year 2020, we should include measures on the access of disabled persons to facilities and activities related to physical fitness and sports.»
Our second priority is to create conditions to get involved in fitness and sport for those who have decided to take up such activities at a mature age. In the past decade, the number of regions that have worked to advance adaptive sports has increased approximately fourfold. Which is good news; it means something is being done about the problem. But there are regions that prefer to ignore it. I’m going to name names – just to call their heads’ attention to the importance of addressing the problem. The underperformers include the Republic of Tuva, the Chechen Republic, the Astrakhan Region, the Bryansk Region, the Novgorod Region and the Orenburg Region. This is according to the data available to me. If there are positive examples you know of, please share. But I’ve been told that in the Bryansk Region, for one, nothing is being done to foster adaptive fitness. In any case, we need to create adaptive sports centres for adults, using investments from private business along with treasury funds.
Third, a number of major competitions are to be held in this country in the next few years, with probably the most important being the Paralympic Games. These will be the first Paralympics to be hosted by us, and active preparations for this event are currently underway. But along with high-profile international competitions, we should also work to improve various nationwide sporting events, including for disabled athletes, and to try to get as many participants as possible involved.
One other important task is to train personnel for specialised schools (coaches could be trained for the Paralympic and Deaflympic backup teams) and medical crews for national teams. We’ve seen a few medical facilities just now, and they are indeed impressive, all the more since they are all mobile… But we also need to improve conventional medical services. They are all up to the mark here, but elsewhere this isn’t always the case.
And, finally, I’d like to touch on the Accessible Environment programme, which will run to the end of 2015. While developing a follow-up programme lasting into the year 2020, we should include measures on the access of disabled persons to facilities and activities related to physical fitness and sports. This is something I’d like federal ministries and government agencies to address.
That’s it for my opening remarks. Now Minister of Sport Vitaly Mutko will take the floor to deliver his report. And then we’ll discuss it. Mr Mutko, please go ahead.
Vitaly Mutko: Thank you, Mr Medvedev. Ladies and gentlemen, I’d like to begin by expressing my thanks to the Prime Minister for his attention to Paralympic sports, for his visit today to our leading centre, and for the chance to discuss related problems together. In 2009, we began renovating this facility. And we opened it in this volume last year.
And I would like to thank you for supporting the budget process during the formulation of our investment programme. We are currently able to conduct training sessions in 15 sports and we will continue this work. Our task is to resolve the problem with all new Paralympic and Olympic sports so that federal training centres cover all sports.
In your introductory remarks you already mentioned all the main guidelines. I can only add that in 2009 the Government drafted and approved the Physical Fitness and Sport Development Strategy. This very serious and ambitious document sets very serious tasks, which were subsequently included in the state programme up to 2020, which was drafted by us and approved at a fairly recent Government meeting. As you said, under these two documents, we have to increase the proportion of people with disabilities involved in physical fitness and sport across the country to 2.5 million, a 20% increase.
Vitaly Mytko: We have to increase the proportion of people with disabilities involved in physical fitness and sport across the country to 2.5 million, a 20% increase.
If we look at today's figures, this is a very ambitious and challenging task, which also requires serious collaboration on the part of the federal executive agencies and all regional authorities, as well as public organisations, whose representatives are present here today, including the Russian Paralympic Committee and the Russian Deaflympic Committee, various sporting federations and the Special Olympics Committee ... Some of these colleagues are present here. Of course, we will have to ensure very serious mobilisation and work together. We will need new forms of work, we will have to improve the levels of technical equipment, as well as medical and staffing support for the sector.
As a result of various major decisions that have been adopted after the Strategy, in terms of organisational, financial, structural and management aspects, the number of disabled people involved in physical fitness and sport across the country has more than doubled, from 224,000 people to 458,000 in 2012. That means that 3.5% of disabled people in Russia are involved in sport. However, in order to achieve our objective, we need to increase that number by 357,000 a year, and that is an entirely different level. You have already named specific regions, and we have statistics for all regions, including the current gap between regions, the uneven development of various types of sport in many regions, as well as the difference in the number of athletes involved and in terms of technical equipment levels ... This objective will be even more difficult to achieve. Therefore we are, of course, now trying to sum up all the best practices and, of course, to focus on this issue.
At the end of 2012 the best figure for those disabled people involved in physical fitness and sport, demonstrated disabled children, they accounted for almost 40% or 218,000 of the total number of disabled children. Compared to 2011 their number had tripled and has now nearly exceeded the maximum levels set out in the Accessible Environment programme. But this is quite understandable because all children study at corrective, social protection and sport schools. And, of course, we find it easier to organise this work there and to implement sports programmes and projects.
Vitaly Mytko: As a result of various major decisions that have been adopted after the Strategy, in terms of organisational, financial, structural and management aspects, the number of disabled people involved in physical fitness and sport across the country has more than doubled, from 224,000 people to 458,000 in 2012.
Of course, physical fitness and health improvement projects are primarily being implemented by institutions and there are 11,467 of them across the country. Of this number, 400 institutions work in the field of physical fitness and sport, 7,000 institutions work in the field of education and 500 rehabilitation centres deal with social protection issues. Of course, all the main work is now being conducted at these institutions.
Regional centres, which have now been established in virtually all regions, are supposed to coordinate this work together with the Federation of Disabled People and divisions of the Russian Paralympic Committee. We have the required scientific and methodological base and the best practices for doing this.
Mr Medvedev, we recently held a special meeting of the Board of the Ministry of Sport, in which all regions were involved. We summed up the relevant experience and, in fact, compiled this methodological document on how to implement physical fitness and sports projects for disabled people in every Russian region. We are now holding a competition for the best region and we are allocating grants in order to encourage the best regions and best practices.
Of course, we need to considerably improve technical equipment levels at the aforementioned institutions since it’s really an impediment factor. For instance, the Ministry of Education and Science controls 1,700 special correctional educational institutions for 97,000 disabled athletes. And these institutions don’t have enough gyms. Firstly, only 84% of them have gyms. And secondly, the available facilities do not meet Paralympic and Deaflympics requirements. They also make it impossible to effectively train athletes with disabilities. We have just now inspected a gym which is filled with special-purpose equipment. We need a specialised skating rink, a gym with a special surface, a special-purpose display board and a swimming pool with special lifts. Naturally, the equipment at these institutions does not meet all the requirements. Of course we are trying to finance them wherever possible together with our colleagues. But unfortunately we are not making much headway here. Of course, the accessibility of all national sports facilities remains a major problem. You mentioned this issue in your introductory remarks. Over the past few years, we have built tens of thousands of sports facilities at an average of about 4,000 per year. Every year we build about 200-300 sport facilities using federal budget allocations. This includes single-level facilities and gyms. To date, Russia has a total of 264,000 sports facilities. And only 18% of them can be used by people with disabilities. You mentioned this and even said that the proportion is 20%, but that figure includes the 2013 period and federal centres.
Vitaly Mytko: At the end of 2012 the best figure for those disabled people involved in physical fitness and sport, demonstrated disabled children, they accounted for almost 40% or 218,000 of the total number of disabled children. Compared to 2011 their number had tripled and has now nearly exceeded the maximum levels set out in the Accessible Environment programme.
Dmitry Medvedev: I even exaggerated a bit. The real proportion is 18%.
Vitaly Mutko: If we add federal centres, then this will probably come to 20%. But, the overall number of sports facilities is 47,697. We provide accommodation for people with disabilities at all facilities being built under the federal targeted programme and the social project, in cooperation with United Russia. All of them are accessible, but of course what has already been built … This is like launching a new programme. Mr Medvedev, in reality, we and our colleagues from the Ministry of Regional Development have already submitted the relevant construction standards and regulations. Not a single sports facility can be opened unless it is equipped with sectors for fans with disabilitiesand athletes with disabilities.Based on international requirements, the Ministry of Sport has drafted methodological recommendations forproviding access during the provision of services to disabled people and other low-mobility categories and submitted them to Russian regions. The Ministry of Regional Development has approved the relevant construction standards and regulations. In fact, the regions now have the necessary legal framework, and we have made accessibility provisions an indicator of the region’s performance efficiency, that is, we’ve begun monitoring these indicators. Of course, this is hardly sufficient, but we will continue our work, introducing stimulating programmes.
Speaking about federal centres, as we are now at the Oka training base I would like to say in the presence of all our colleagues, presidents of the sports federations, that we have opened all the training bases for our Paralympic and Deaflympic athletes, including the Yug Sport training base, the Ozero Krugloye, Novogorsk, and Ruza training centres and a new centre in Kislovodsk. All athletes are now able to train at the best centres and training bases. There is a development prospect for the Oka base here, but the Ministry of Sport is also considering buying back the Podolsk training base, which was initially designed for Paralympic sports.
Dmitry Medvedev: What is it being used for now?
Vitaly Mutko: Now it’s a trade union base, with a 15% workload and 80% wear. Naturally, if we don’t make it public property, they will sell it some time in the future to build a village or a gated community, while the base has seen a lot of sports training, and having it in our possession would help us solve many problems. There have been relevant instructions issued, and we are going to examine this question together with the Ministry of Finance over the budget discussions for the next three years.
Under the Accessible Environment state programme, the Ministry of Sport has received 210 million roubles for 2011-2015 to purchase technical and material equipment for adaptive sports establishments. But what’s the heart of the matter here? In your introductory remarks you said that these are adaptive sports schools and departments of specialised schools. We are naturally not satisfied with the rates of development in the regions. When we began, there were 15 schools, with 26 schools this year, and we would like to bring the number to 50 next year. We will continue our work to achieve this. By 2015 we need to set up a system of reserve athlete training, giving disabled children an opportunity to enroll in children’s sport schools. And this subsidy is allocated in order for the schools to purchase adaptive equipment and cover payments.
Of course, in 2013-2015 124.2 million roubles are earmarked for these purposes. This is quite a substantial sum, with each school receiving 2-3 million roubles. This is a kind of a state directive to prepare Paralympic athletes for the national team.
Under the programme, more than 1,300 adaptive medicine specialists will be trained by 2015. However, the projected increase in the number of adaptive sports establishments will inevitably lead to an increase in the number of relevant specialists, so we need to provide for an increase in financing.
V.Mutko: "We’ve increased the number of international and all-Russian competitions held annually by 2.5 times. In 2008 their number was 265, this year it came out to 702."
As for training specialists, Mr Medvedev, I would like to report that in the early 2000s we developed the new medical field of adaptive sports medicine. Now, a fairly large number of specialists is being trained at almost 20 university departments. Sergei Yevseyev (President of the All-Russia Federation of Sports for Persons with Intellectual Disabilities) has been there from the beginning. Many universities are now promoting the profession of adaptive sports specialists, while as recently as 10, 15, 20 years ago, disabled people were prohibited from engaging in sports activities, and we could not send athletes to the Paralympics, or other competitions. Now this is arranged well, we’ve got our first doctors of sciences as well as academicians in this field. I am sure that we will continue making the situation better and better.
The Ministry of Sport together with the Ministry of Labour has drafted a set of measures for the provision of equipment to adaptive sports establishments, as well as qualification requirements for adaptive sports specialists, all of which have been submitted to Russian regions. We’ve done all the work here with the Ministry of Labour, with regard to the full list of adaptive sports professions and qualification requirements. I can also name the regions where all this is already being adopted: the Republic of Tatarstan, the Tver Region and the Tula Region. In these places, we have set some serious experimental establishments and we are cooperating to promote Paralympic sport. Together with the Ministry of Education and the Paralympic Committee we have drafted a set of legal and regulatory documents and have submitted them to the Russian regions. These documents concern setting up and arranging the work of youth adaptive sport schools and providing them with the necessary equipment. Thirty regional establishments have been set up in accordance with these documents. However, more than 50 regions lack such schools and we want to rectify this by 2015.
In order to get more people involved in sport, we are organising more competitions. Mr Medvedev, several years ago you set us the task of reviving the entire sport complex. I would like to say that we have already brought back the Winter and Summer Paralympic Spartakiada Games. We’ve increased the number of international and all-Russian competitions held annually by 2.5 times. In 2008 their number was 265, this year it came out to 702. Various sports are actively developing and this requires that we take adequate measures to develop new Paralympic sports. I'm talking here about para-snowboarding, which has already been entered into the Paralympics programme, and will be featured in Sochi for the first time. Other sports include para-canoe and para-triathlon and they are included in the programme of the Rio de Janeiro Paralympics. As for para-snowboarding, we took the risk and held the first World Cup in our country. And I can tell you that we won our first gold medal right away. People are really interested in this sport, and our team has performed well. The Cup took place in the Moscow Region, and now the National Team is preparing for the Sochi Paralympics.
We have also boosted financing of competitions held within a calendar year. In 2009 we allocated 176 million roubles, while this year 399 million roubles have been earmarked exclusively for Paralympics agenda. The financing dynamics is truly great.
In order to develop Paralympic sports among children with disabilities between the ages of six and 18, we resumed Summer and Winter Spartakiada Games. In 2011 we held the First All-Russia Spartakiada Games for people with disabilities, which united 1,257 athletes from 56 (for now) regions of Russia. We held it in Moscow, and after choosing the best possible venue hall in Luzhniki, we organised a beautiful ceremony. All our colleagues were present there. You should have seen how the regional authorities equipped those athletes, how the athletes performed in the competitions. The medals were awarded by distinguished athletes, Olympic champions. It was a huge celebration! Still, the Winter and Summer Spartakiada Games have shown that disabled children from only half of the Russian regions participate in such competitions. I think we should mention this in today’s protocol, instructing the regional authorities to take a more active part in these sporting events, as this is a test of how well Paralympic sports among children is developed in each particular region.
V.Mutko: "In 2012 we concluded agreements with 55 Russian regions to support Paralympic sports worth 31.4 million roubles."
Working according to your instructions, Mr Medvedev, the Ministry of Sport has approved a list of basic Paralympic sports. We have had long discussions and we have added several Paralympic sports. In so doing, we don’t mean to say that regional authorities should refrain from promoting other sports; but the basic sports are those that have a certain culture and that have coaching personnel and tangible achievements. Thus it is very important, and we prioritise financing for these regions.
In 2012 we concluded agreements with 55 Russian regions to support Paralympic sports worth 31.4 million roubles. Responding to your instruction, we’ve carried out the necessary procedure to extend the right to subsidies for Deaflympic athletes and sports. This is another important area of work.
We have reported to you in full about medical and medical-biological support of athletes, national teams, Paralympic and Deaflympic teams. In 2013 medical and medical-biological support for athletes was provided by 62 medical specialists, including 33 sport professionals, 25 masseurs and four psychologists, which are staff personnel. A few years ago we didn’t have Paralympic sports medicine at all, but we’ve opened a special training centre. Yes, for the time being medical training is not systemic, the course has been sped up, we recruit 100 people, some of them stay, so in general terms a Paralympic medical specialist is now an established profession in our country. The First Medical University has admitted its first students in the field. In four years we will have trained specialists. The problem is that the relevant medical institution remained in Tartu after the break up of the Soviet Union.
Dmitry Medvedev: In Tartu?
Vitaly Mutko: Yes, it was in Tartu. Doctors in sports medicine were trained there in the Soviet period. Now we need to revive all this. Currently we are doing this in the form of accelerated courses in cooperation with the Federal Medical-Biological Agency and the Ministry of Healthcare. In 2014-2015, we will already begin to train doctors in sports medicine on a systematic basis (they will be the first graduates).
Pursuant to the Russian Government’s 2008 resolution, payments to Russian athletes were increased. Currently federal payments to athletes with disabilities in Paralympic and Deaflympic sports are the same as payments to Olympic athletes. The number of maintenance grants for coaches, specialists and Deaflympic athletes has increased by 200 and their amount has grown from 12,000 roubles to 25,000 roubles.
I also would like to say that scientific support is being provided by a special research institute of the Ministry of Sport located in St. Petersburg. It provides full-scale scientific support and research; and we’ve started allocating significant resources to it. The Paralympic and Deaflympic Committees, the Special Olympics and the Federation of Physical Culture and Sport for Persons with Physical Disabilities have been receiving subsidies from the federal budget for a number of years now. When we were reporting at the meeting on sports we had already solved this problem. The subsidies are used to develop, maintain and popularise new sports. And now we have decided to provide subsidies for the Paralympic Committee to open Disabled Athletes House, which will headquarter the Paralympic Committees of Russia and Moscow and the whole Paralympic Sports Federation. The Ministry of Sport will pay for repairs and utility services, no maintenance fee will be charged, and all of our colleagues will work in the same building; I think that is very important and we will be able to work together with them.
In the previous two Paralympic Games, as well as in the Deaflympic Games, the national teams came first in the unofficial team standings; in the summer Paralympics in London they came second. Just for your information, in 2008 our team came 8th in Beijing, and 11th in the games before that. Of course it was due to the efforts of an athlete, a coach, a region – they were joint efforts. Nevertheless, the London Paralympics showed that Russian disabled athletes competed in 12 out of 20 sports, except for the most difficult events. And, of course, we’ve decided that we should change this. We are working hard to make it possible for our athletes to compete in all 20 events in Rio de Janeiro. In this work we are cooperating with the Paralympic Committee and with the regions.
At present, the Ministry is implementing the work plan and preparing for the 22nd summer Deaflympics, which will be held in Sofia (Bulgaria) in July. Mr Rukhledev (Valery Rukhledev, President of the Russian Society of the Deaf, President of the Russian Committee of Deaf Sports) is present here, we will instruct the team that is training now. We have already done all the necessary work.
The same scheduled training is going on to prepare our disabled athletes for the 11th Winter Paralympics in Sochi. You have seen one of the teams. We’ve started preparing for the 14th Summer Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro as well. We hope to be a success; we hope that the victories of the Paralympic athletes, of the big team, will promote grassroots sports among persons with disabilities. Thank you.