Serhiy Bubka: football involves running with a ball, so it is athletics as well

19.03.2012 | By Ihor Levenstein

President of the National Olympic Committee of Ukraine, legendary athlete Serhiy Bubka spoke with KW about his participation in the preparation for EURO 2012 and how football championship can influence further sport plans of Ukraine

KW: What, besides your status as the NOC of Ukraine president induced you to become a Friend of EURO 2012?

S.B.: European Football Championship is not only a football feast. Thanks to organization of such a large-scale tournament the world will discover Ukraine. This is very important to us. EURO 2012 will open Ukraine to the world and show that we are indeed an interesting country. In no way could I remain outside of such event either as a sport official or Ukrainian citizen or a football fan. I am proud that I was in this process since the very start since April 2007, when Ukraine together with Poland won the bid for organizing EURO 2012 in Cardiff.


KW: How would you evaluate preparation of the country for the championship?

S.B.: Ukraine has fulfilled the major tasks construction, commissioning and maintenance of facilities are practically completed. Naturally, there were many difficulties and problems, concerns and threats on the part of the UEFA, but today it is gone. We are at the final stage of preparation and everything should take place the way it should. System of preparation must work as a watch mechanism coordinated and efficient.

KW: What areas of preparation for EURO 2012 do you believe are most important today?

S.B.: Training of the personnel is currently the most important issue. People who will be working at the stadiums, airports, police stations or ambulances must clearly know their plan of actions, because all objects and people will be working for the common goal creating a major football celebration. There is also another priority security issues. Security system must cover sport facilities, airports, hotels and official objects on land and in the air. Also the medical constituent must be well coordinated. Of course, specialists speaking foreign languages must be supporting all fields of work, because we indeed expect hundreds thousands people from all over the world.

KW: You are a track and field man. Are you envious that football is the sport no.1 in Ukraine? Maximum attention is drawn to football and the money circulating in this sport is huge and no other sport can expect to get that kind of financing.

S.B.: It would make sense to talk about healthy competition, to envy, about how football sets an example to other federations, how to organize work, find sponsors and develop infrastructure. There is nothing surprising about popularity of football: it is an affordable and democratic sport. On the other hand, I keep telling my footballer friends that football is essentially running with a ball, which means that there is athletics in it and Im satisfied with that.

KW: You probably liked the fact that after the reconstruction of Olimpiyskiy Stadium, the tracks and sectors for track and field were preserved?

S.B.: Of course. Our track and field got an excellent arena, where Im sure major competitions will be held and high results will be achieved. On my part, I lobbied the issue of preserving track and field facilities at Olimpiyskiy and Im glad I succeeded.

KW: What games of EURO 2012 do you plan to attend?

S.B.: I will definitely go to all games of Ukraine at the group stage, particularly since two games against France and England will take place in Donetsk. It is my hometown, my sport home, where I came into big sport. I will support our team the best way I can sparing neither my voice nor hands. I also plan to go to the semi-final that will take place in Donetsk and final game in Kyiv.

KW: After EURO 2012, our country will host European Basketball Championship in 2015 and then we are hoping to win the bid for hosting Olympic Winter Games 2022. How will EURO 2012 affect these events?

S.B.: Major sport events improve image and infrastructure and the economy of the country. By EuroBasket 2015, modern sport arenas in six cities of the country will be built. EURO 2012 already ensured availability of modern hotels and trained personnel at least in four cities. Plus we will have experience of volunteer work. The next major objective for Ukraine is winning the bid for hosting Olympic Winter Games 2022 in the Carpathians. It will facilitate development of the western region of the country. The games will help develop infrastructure, since we do not have facilities for winter sports, but we will be able to build them, because Ukraine is a sport nation. We are strong in figure skating and biathlon, but in the future we must develop other winter sports. Olympic Games would create favorable conditions for athletes and tourists.

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