The Director of the Organizing Committee of the first International Friendship Championship organized by Russia, Alexei Sorokin announced that his country is ready all countries of the world, including Egypt, to the event.
The relaunched event is set to feature up to 5,000 players from various countries in 33 sports such as football, basketball, tennis, horse riding, gymnastics, and other more.
Boasting large financial prizes, it will be a major venue for various sports competitions, Sorokin said, adding that more events will also be organized in the Russian capital, Moscow, and other cities full of outdoor museums.
The Russian Friendship Games will include cycling, judo, women’s swimming, ice skating, taekwondo, women’s artistic gymnastics, programming competitions, archery, samba, karate, weightlifting, chess, running, and swimming.
Russia has more than 80,000 hotel rooms and four airports, he said, with player participation to be free of charge as Russia will bear the costs of accommodation and transportation.
In exclusive statements to Al-Masry Al-Youm, Sorokin confirmed that the Russian Friendship Games will not compete with other international Olympic tournaments and games, with its date chosen far from the international games schedules.
He added that there will be up to 283 gold, silver and bronze medals ready for the taking.
When asked about whether Russian President Vladimir Putin will participate in the opening of the tournament, Sorokin explained that he is not aware of his schedule, and issued a warm welcome to all presidents to the tournament’s opening.
Several Latin American, Asian and African countries were eager to participate, he noted.
The tournament will not be limited to sports games, Sorokin assured, but will also be feature cultural participation given the large museums Russia boasts.
“We do not want to politicize the tournament despite sanctions imposed on the athletes, and our goal is purely sporting,” he said, explaining that the second round of the tournament will be determined following its international recognition.
Sorokin pointed out that sporting events will contribute to promoting domestic and foreign tourism, stressing that visitors to the World Cup returned to Russia again and visited it for tourism and entertainment.
He added that the Russian Sports Association is communicating with the relevant authorities in Egypt to nominate athletes in all 33 games, depending on the level of the players internationally.
He welcomed Egypt’s participation due to its assortment of international players, such as football legend Mohamed Salah who Sorokin assured was warmly welcome to join in the the Russian Friendship Games if his program allows, just as he was welcomed at the World Cup in Russia in 2018, and that they were closely following if he will be moving to another club or not.
Russia will bear all costs of accommodation and transportation for various participation nations, with no restrictions.
Although there is a political ban despite American sanctions, Sorokin assured that players from the US and Ukraine are welcomed and will be provided with the utmost care and protection.
Players are also free to participate personally without having to represent their nation, he said.
Sorokin confirmed that the whole word was witness to the precise organization of the FIFA World Cup in Russia, as the Ministry of Transport and Russian government had connected all transport and subway cars with display screens so that any visitor, tourist, or game follower could watch the favorite matches while in the metro covering the capital, Moscow, and surrounding cities.