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We hope it will snow during the Olympic Games in Sochi

2 (2008)
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The Ambassador of Switzerland in Russia Erwin Hofer believes: while organizing the Olympic Games even perfect organizers may face obstacles that are impossible to overcome.

Many diplomatic missions of foreign countries, including the Ambassador of Switzerland in Russia Erwin Hofer, showed their interest in the first issue of «Vestnik Olimpiady». In exclusive interview he shared his impressions about the latest Olympic Games in Beijing, rememebered the Olympic Games which had been held in his native Alps and, of course, forecasted on the success of the project «Sochi-2014».

— Mr. Hofer, China, USA and Russia have won the first three leading positions according to the team results during the XXIX Summer Olympic Games. Did it surprise you?

— Generally, the expectations proved to be correct. Though there were surprises: the UK has been holding the third position during many days and Russia won the third place the last minute.

— The national team of Switzerland took only 34th place in Beijing. Could the Swiss athletes perform better?

— The Swiss delegation set an aim to win from 6 to 9 medals in Beijing; and it has achieved this aim. The population of Switzerland is 7.5 million people. Our country is on 92nd place in the world in terms of population. Therefore, if we count how many medals a country should win per capita, Russia, for instance, should have won 120 medals. Of course, we did expect Switzerland to perform better. And now our teams are thoroughly training to get ready for the Olympic Games in London.

— Is Switzerland an athletic country?

— I suppose it is in many terms. We have very good mass sports. A wide network of clubs and associations is established for such sports. The second direction is encouragement of sport achievements. Special programs and an extensive system of bonuses are running now. Though rewards from the state are not huge, so the sponsors' help is quite important. The third point is national and international sport events. Private and state establishments take part in their organization.

— Switzerland was not only a participant of the Olympics, but also hosted the Games. Two Winter Olympic Games in 1928 and 1948 took place in St-Moritz, Switzerland. Are your compatriots proud of it?

— They are, of course. The Olympic Games in 1928 are considered to be the second in the Winter Olympic Games chronicle. In fact, these were the first Olympic Games considered as the Winter Olympic Games. The previous games in the year 1924 were held as the Winter Sports Week. The Games of 1948 were the first after the World War II, therefore they had a symbolic significance. They showed that global history experienced a painful stage of its development and people began to go in for sports, not being aware of war conflicts.

— By the decision of the IOC the XXII Winter Olympic Games will take place in 2014 in Sochi. Do you think Russia can organize and conduct the Games on high level?

— We were greatly impressed by high level at which the presentation of the city-candidate Sochi was performed in Guatemala as well as by the energy, persistence and firmness with which Olympic projects are being organized now. That is why we are convinced that Russian government will be able to provide all necessary conditions for successful organization of the Olympic Games in Sochi by 2014. Certainly, we hope that during the Olympic Games there will be good weather, it will snow.

— Can the Russians expect to return the first positions in the world sport in the nearest future?

— The Olympic Games in Sochi will take place in 5 years. There is not much time left, but it is enough to improve training. We see now that Russian sportsmen achieve successes in such sports which they hadn't been successful before. I am absolutely enthusiastic about it; your sportsmen will show success in the Games 2014.

— Do you personally go in for sports?

— Yes, I do. In winter I skate, ski. In summer I like biking, swimming, running. Besides I enjoy watching tennis. I am impressed by your tennis players' results. Recently I had a meeting with Elena Isinbaeva in my residence. Her personality and achievements impress greatly.

Files on Erwin Hofer

Born in 1949 in Vidish, kanton Aargau (Switzerland). Graduated law faculty of Zurich University. In 1976 entered the diplomatic service of Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) of Switzerland. Worked on probation in Berne and Nairobi. In the years of 1978-1982 was a diplomatic worker in Politic Secretary of FDFA.

1982-1987— works in Permanent Supervising Committee of Switzerland at UNO in New York.

1987-1991 — the head of UNO and international organizations in FDFA main department.

1991-1996 — the counselor of embassy and the first assistant of the head of Switzerland mission in Budapest.

1996-2000 — deputy representative (concerning multilateral cooperation) of Permanent Switzerland mission at international organizations and Permanent representative of Switzerland at Disarmament Conference in Geneva in the capacity of an ambassador.

2000-2004 — ambassador and the head of the third politic branch (UNO, international organizations, environment, culture, Frncophonie) at Politic Administration in Berne.

From February 2004 — ambassador of Swiss Conference in the Russian Federation, Republic of Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan with residence in Russia. Status — Married, has three children, born in 1982, 1988, 1991 correspondingly.