Team “athletes from Russia” flying on their own, perhaps the most difficult Olympic games. To support and help the athletes be the Confessor of our team — Archpriest Andrey Alexeev.
A frame from the video.
— Father Andrey, you were there with the national team during the Olympic games in Rio. How is your communication with athletes? How do you support them?
— Everything is very natural, no artificiality. In the Olympic village near the place where the athletes live, settling the chapel. Sort of a prayer room, similar to these, which are, for example, in military units. But my communication with the athletes is not only limited to the chapel. I go to events, talk to the kids and the block where they live, and in the dining room. It is a living dialogue with people who have the need for support. Because when a person is stressed, he needs a kind word, a look. And every day at the Olympics painted: where and how much to come to support them, be with them, to say a kind word and to pray for them on the competition.
— Our Olympic team is in a very difficult situation right now. You in preparation for the trip has encountered some problems?
— Anything such wasn’t. The only slight difference is that in those countries where we had been before, there are Russian Orthodox churches, and in Korea they are not. So this time I have to carry a few more items, including liturgical than usual. But in the end everything will be organized and provided according to the Patriarchal blessing and tradition.
— In the Olympic team because there are representatives of other religions…
— Certainly, is, but it never had any problems. Because that is what people have in common. For everyone to be together and support each other, not necessarily to practise one religion. In Rio de Janeiro we have found the good words to support all people. I have a second degree historical, and will tell you that Russia is a unique country with experience of building relationships between people of different religions. So no problems, and I see no reason for their appearance this time.
— You have not sought the spiritual support of those athletes who are not invited to the Games?
— I haven’t had to meet with the guys from winter sports. And with athletes from the summer species still communicate constantly with the Olympic games in Rio. Yesterday they sent me from the Olympic team handball the whole message: Maya Petrova from Rostov-on-don was asking for the nod from Olympic Champions to our young men and women flying to Korea.
— Our athletes in Pyeongchang will be especially hard. No flag, no anthem, but still might have to feel the hostility of the other athletes…
— We in Rio have partially experienced this attitude from some athletes and not just athletes. But whenever difficulties arise, Russian people going. It is the difficulties that make people feel like a team, to call upon God to help and work together to overcome these difficulties.
On Tuesday it became known that Olga Graf, admitted to our Olympic speed skater, he refused to voluntarily participate in the Games. Do you think this was a strong move for her?
— I don’t want to judge people’s decisions. Everyone is free to do as they please, everyone has their own reasons for such decisions. As a priest, I just want to encourage people to peace and unity. It is very important to come to the Olympics as a team. On this subject I even wrote a poem.
Today, many different conversations,
Positions, views, opinions and speeches.
May I suggest to move away from disputes,
Questions who is who and who is whose.
There are present day events and people,
Peace inner and outer, you and me.
Have a homeland that we love.
We live here, we are all one family.
What can I say — already the ship at sea:
The calm, the storm, the weather is not quite…
Who is wise, who dared, and who fell asleep on patrol…
But in the Wake of my friend, how to wave!
And whoever went swimming, of course, knows:
Let cold, let the heat, the rains —
Sailor heart, brother, warms?
That the house remember, believe, love, waiting.
Yesterday, his Holiness the Patriarch with me at the Cathedral
Peace and unity said,
So with God in joy and in sorrow,
To fly are blessed.
Citizenship have no conscience and honor,
But should cherish their country.
May I suggest to be all of us together —
To be with God’s help, a team of one.
The years will pass, and become closer given,
Shed tears, sweat, wine and blood…
But eternity is not the medals,
Only hope, faith and love.