The 20th Winter Diplomatic Games were held on February 8, shortly before Diplomats’ Day, in the Moscow Country Club, a branch of GlavUpDK.
Sergey Lavrov, Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation, welcomed participants and guests. “Joint sports events are an essential part of cultural and humanitarian cooperation, and play an important role in the conduct of international affairs. Your initiative in bringing together representatives of different countries therefore not only represents an important contribution to the promotion of a healthy and active lifestyle, but also helps to strengthen links of friendship, trust and understanding between nations,” said the Minister in his opening address.
In his opening remarks Stanislav Pozdnyakov, the president of the Russian Olympic Committee, also pointed out that the Winter Diplomatic Games, in which hundreds of Russian Foreign Ministry staff and foreign diplomats take part every year, help to encourage people to lead a healthy lifestyle by strengthening sporting, cultural and other links between nations.
The 20th Winter Diplomatic Games were opened by Sergey Makarov, head of GlavUpDK. “It is pleasant to note that every year more contestants take part in the Diplomatic Games, an event which brings together people from different countries and ethnic groups, and which is completely apolitical. I would like to thank the Russian Olympic Committee, as well as the professional athletes who have come here as guests of the Games, many of whom have become good friends to us, for their continuing interest in and support for this event,” said Sergey Makarov in his address. He also congratulated all the Russian diplomats on the upcoming professional holiday, and wished the guests and participants every success in the Games and a pleasant and relaxing time at the Moscow Country Club.
Svetlana Zhurova, Olympic champion and First Deputy Chairperson of the State Duma Committee on International Affairs, who also took part in the opening ceremony, emphasised that the fact that these were the 20th Diplomatic Winter Games was a clear demonstration of the importance of this event: “They are necessary, they are enjoyable, and they are interesting! May the strongest contestants win!” she added. Mrs Zhurova also thanked GlavUpDK for keeping the tradition of the Games alive and organising this festive sports event to such a high standard.
Also participating in the opening ceremony were Galina Gorokhova, President of the Russian Union of Athletes, three-time Olympic champion and the long-serving head of the Games’ panel of judges, and Irina Tseplinskaya, First Deputy Head of the Krasnogorsk Urban District for investment, industry and business development.
The oath of loyalty was sworn on behalf of the judges by Mikhail Devyatyarov, skier, Olympic champion and prizewinner, and on behalf of the contestants by Wilfried Schnider, General Consul at the Embassy of the Swiss Confederation.
Teams of diplomatic staff from various countries and international organisations competed and won prizes in biathlon, cross-country skiing, table tennis, Russian billiards and mini football.
Diplomatic missions from the following countries sent teams: Republic of Azerbaijan, Republic Armenia, Republic of Belarus, Republic of Bulgaria, Republic of Cuba, Republic of Ecuador, Republic of Finland, Federal Republic of Germany, State of Israel, Republic of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Republic of Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Republic of Moldova, Mongolia, Romania, Republic of Tajikistan, Republic of Uzbekistan, Swiss Confederation, South Ossetia, the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, Republic of Yemen and also the Eurasian Economic Commission.
The members of the panel of judges included: Mikhail Devyatyarov; Victor Grigoriev, head of the Russian Panel of Cross-Country Skiing Judges, Svetlana Nageykina, Olympic champion, and many other high-profile athletes and professional sports judges.
This year the Games celebrated an important anniversary - GlavUpDK has been organising them for 20 years. The history of the Diplomatic Games dates back to 1997, when the first ski race between teams from diplomatic missions took place at the Moscow Country Club. Those were the First Winter Diplomatic Games, which launched the tradition of annual summer and winter diplomatic competitions held in two branches of GlavUpDK, the Moscow Country Club and Zavidovo.
As per tradition, the Moscow Country Club laid on an interesting cultural and entertainment programme for its guests. An outdoor attraction park was set up in the Club grounds, where both adults and children had fun competing in games of skill, including Russia-style curling - with kettles instead of curling stones - and also tried different foods from around the world. A show put on by the Latin American teams, together with energetic dancing on the snow, helped to create a warm atmosphere on a frosty February day in Nakhabino.
As part of the traditional reception for heads of diplomatic missions and their spouses, a Gastronomic Map of Russia was organised for guests, who were invited to try more than 45 unique foods and wines from different regions of Russia: cheeses, meat delicacies, including game, a range of traditional pickles, and much more.