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Call to remove cap on Belarusian players in team sports in Russia

Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko is in favor of removing a cap on Belarusian players in team sports in Russia. This topic was discussed at the meeting of the head of state with Russia's Sport Minister Pavel Kolobkov on 11 December, BelTA informs. 

“I would like to thank you for your efforts to eliminate differences between Belarusian and Russian athletes. It seems that an ice hockey issue was solved, but I think that we need to do it in other sports. Some time ago I told the president [Vladimir Putin] that we should not be afraid of what other states will think. If they want to have equal rights, they should join the Union State of Belarus and Russia,” Alexander Lukashenko said. 

The president praised the achievements of Russian athletes at recent international competitions and added that if Belarusian athletes are not there he is always rooting for Team Russia. 

“Your athletes were great. They showed their true character and defeated Norwegians in ski sports. I hope they will show such good results at in the future,” the head of state said. 

The meeting also focused on the joint use of sports facilities for the training of Belarusian and Russian athletes, including during the preparations for the Olympic Games in Japan. Alexander Lukashenko emphasized that Russian athletes can train in Belarus at any time if necessary. 

The Sport and Tourism Ministry of Belarus has joined efforts with Russian colleagues to remove a cap for Belarusian athletes. Following the order of the Russian Sport Ministry, a limit on the number of foreign players in water polo, volleyball, handball, lawn hockey, rugby, bandy and basketball was increased from seven to eight athletes. 

Besides, in September the Russian ministry removed a cap on Belarusian ice hockey players at all-Russia tournaments. At the same time, in November the Russian Sport Ministry prepared draft documents to remove a cap on athletes who are not entitled to compete for Russian national teams in all-Russia basketball, water polo, volleyball, handball, rugby, lawn hockey, bandy and football competitions. A

fter public discussions and an independent anti-corruption analysis, the documents will be submitted for state registration at the Justice Ministry of Russia. 

These and other issues will be discussed at the joint session of the boards of the Belarusian and Russian sport ministries in Minsk on 11-12 December. The sides will discuss the development of cooperation, including in the context of preparations for the 2nd European Games, Russia's experience in the preparations for the FIFA World Cup, the organization of the Union State junior and youth sports competition, and other issues. 

After the meeting the sides are expected to sign a program of cooperation for 2019-2020. The document envisages measures concerning the development of mutually beneficial contacts in physical education and sport to ensure equal conditions for Belarusian and Russian athletes, the training of elite athletes before international competitions and the efficient use of sports facilities. 

In particular, the program envisages the cooperation of specialized state bodies, non-government and regional sports organizations, educational and scientific institutions of the two countries.