Last week Morinari Watanabe and Nellie Kim visited Belarus to attend a World Cup in Rhythmic gymnastics. They also held a meeting with the president of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, and were both presented with the awards for the development of the Olympic movement in Belarus.
In the speech addressed to Watanabe, Lukashenko said that he hopes that Watanabe and FIG will help Belarus to restore its artistic gymnastics program:
“I very much hope that you will help us to return to the gymnastics’ elite. You know that we had a wonderful school [of gymnastics], but, unfortunately, we lost it, unlike Japan – the country that not only used to be on top but stayed on top”.
Nellie Kim actually was involved in helping Belarus to qualify for the Rio Olympics – she facilitated the Belarus’ acquisition of two American gymnasts, Alaina Kwan and Kylie Dickson in 2015. After the 2015 Worlds Dickson went on to represent Belarus at the European Championships, Olympic Test Event and the Olympics, all without ever setting a foot on Belarusian land. Hopefully, future help from FIG will involve developing the program in Belarus.