T.Boldbaatar: We expect to win five to seven medals from the Rio 2016 Olympics

Trans. by B.DULGUUN

Deputy Minister of Health and Sports gave Ikon.mn an extensive interview regarding ministry operations and  the Rio 2016 Summer Olympics. 

The Ministry of Culture, Sport and Tourism was liquidated and re-established as the Ministry of Health and Sport. Have the responsibilities of the ministry decreased due to this change? As the deputy minister, what principles are you upholding?

The health and sport sector was integrated during the Government of Solutions and became the Ministry of Health and Sports. This is a very good decision. Health and sport are intangible sectors. The whole world has reached one concept on this.

Global practices have proven that it’s important to actively exercise, move, and do sports for non-communicable disease prevention and eradication. That’s why I believe that integrating these sectors was the most logical decision.

 Since the establishment of the new ministry, what projects have been completed?

We’re talking about two different fields. Sport is very interesting. Professional athletes are partaking in competitions and contests such as world championships and the Olympic Games. As for physical education, the whole nation is training in sports and exercise. We’ve been given a big duty to promote active movement among the public, as it’s essential for their health. According to last year’s statistics, around 5,000 competitions and games are organized in Mongolia annually. Over a million of Mongolia’s three million people are reported to have been involved. Among them, some 100,000 people have dedicated their lives purely to sports. This is an insufficient number for Mongolia. Apart from athletes, just over 300,000 people are actively exercising through fitness, running, and hiking.

The current focus of our ministry is the world’s largest international multi-sport event to be held next year, the 2016 Summer Olympics (Rio 2016). Much effort is being put forward for participating in Rio 2016, which will be hosted in Brazil. The government is also paying considerable attention. There’s a national team department at the Development Center for Physical Culture and Sports. The department includes over 120 athletes for 17 sports, and some 30 coaches, so in total, over 150 people have begun training. A budget of 4.4 billion MNT was included in the 2015 budget solely for training and having national team athletes partake in competitions.

Personally, I consider this amount of financing adequate. Others say the projected costs and budget aren’t enough. Actually, quite a good amount of training can be provided with 4.4 billion MNT. This money is granted to only the national team. I don’t think this financing is unsatisfactory. We must manage it properly and successfully take part in Rio 2016.

There’s a 13-hour difference between Mongolia and Rio de Janeiro. The Olympic Games will begin in August next year. Since Brazil is located in the southern hemisphere of the globe, it’ll be winter there and summer in Mongolia. Still, the temperature is around 20+ degrees Celsius during winter in Rio de Janeiro. These are relatively favorable conditions for our athletes.

According to international sports science, an hour difference is equivalent to a day for athletes. So, our team will depart for Rio de Janeiro 13 days prior to competition and wrap up training there. Mongolia earned 28 rights to partake in the  Beijing 2008 Olympics and 29 rights for the London 2012 Olympics. Now, we’re aiming to acquire more than 30 rights. We plan to win five to seven medals. 

Mongolia has earned two Olympic rights to compete in archery and marathon, and is expected to get some rights to compete in judo and boxing. Which other sports is Mongolia concentrating on winning Olympic competition rights? 

Two athletes have won entrance into the Paralympic Games, and three athletes won rights to compete in the Olympic Games. Judo goes under the principle of collecting scores for granting rights. Other sports give rights straight away. Athletes are working hard to earn rights from weightlifting. G.Ser-Od acquired his rights for marathon. Now, training for participating in the world championship is being completed in Japan. There’s a high possibility of getting another two to three rights for marathoners. Presently, the national team is training for five sports in the Paralympics, 11 sports in the Olympic Games, and one non-Olympic competition.

Besides the four main Olympic sports, we’re supporting athletes to earn Olympic rights to Rio 2016 for weightlifting, and Paralympic rights for athletics, archery and judo. 

How is the ministry cooperating with sport associations? Our judokas went to Doha, Qatar, to compete in the Asian Championship, but three athletes came back due to visa issues. This caused quite a commotion. Can’t the ministry do something to resolve or support athletes on visa issues? Do sport associations have to take care of it themselves? 

Sport associations are NGOs. They collaborate with the ministry. The ministry distributes capital from our budget to associations. The expenses for having national team athletes participate in  international games and competitions are covered by the ministry’s budget. In other words, funds from the Minister’s portfolio are distributed. Travelling expenses for athletes participating in international games and competitions are covered by the state budget.

The ministry also provides regular support to some associations when their participating in large international games. For instance, the Ministry of Health and Sports  is providing support to athletes representing Mongolia in the Winter Deaflympics 2015, Special Olympics World Summer Games, IBSA World Games, Universiade, Para-triathlon World Championships, and others. This is a big indication that the government is supporting the sports sector.

Our Mongolian public isn’t well aware of this and misunderstands that associations take part in competitions through their own costs, when, in reality, funds from the Minister’s portfolio are distributed. Associations have to submit proposals one year in advance if they wish to compete in any competitions for any sport. The ministry discusses this in a meeting and distributes funds. In general, the Ministry of Health and Sports supports sport  associations significantly. We also partnered on the visa issue and sent an official letter to the Qatar Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Will the national team be competing in winter sports? 

There’s skiing for winter sports. We can train a national team for speed skating starting this autumn. In relation to winter sports, our ministry exchanged views on cooperation with Niigata Prefecture, within the scope of a visit by Japanese delegates. The two sides discussed training athletes for winter sports.

Niigata Prefecture is located on the west coast of Japan’s Honshu island and is famous for having a large mountain ski resort. The prefecture also raised Japan’s leading speed skaters. Its mountains are said to be completely covered by snowfall of around four meters. It’s perfect for training Mongolian athletes for winter sports. 

The issue with establishing an indoor sport palace for skating sports has been talked about for many years. Foreigners have even wanted to build it for us if we could settle land issues. Yet, the issue hasn’t progressed. Is the Ministry of  Health and Sports attentive to this issue?

There was 50 hectares of land near the Biocombinat Road and 0.4 hectares of land in front of Buyant Ukhaa Sport Palace. A government resolution was issued in 2013 for building a closed-roof ice palace with a circumference of 400 meters on 0.4 hectares of land in Khan-Uul District. The project was coming along successfully until the land approval was cancelled under the government led by former Prime Minister N.Altankhuyag. The land approval was transferred to the State Housing Corporation.

Just recently, a concessional loan of 300 million USD was given to Mongolia from the Turkish government for constructing a closed-roof stadium in Mongolia. Now, our ministry is working on retrieving 50 hectares of land owned by the State Housing Corporation and building a closed-roof sport palace. We’re working extremely hard in this matter, as we’re trying to construct a Mongolian sports training center for athletes with disabilities with a grant from China. If our projects are completed, opportunities for hosting major international, regional and world games in Mongolia will become open in the future. The issue to build a stadium with 300 million USD was raised recently at a government session. Projects are progressing efficiently. New information regarding this project will probably become available by the end of this month. 

Source: Ikon.mn


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Posted by on Jun 30 2015. Filed under Prime Interview. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

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