Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili on yesterday’s tragedy

  • John Boyle
  • Saturday, February 13, 2010 5:41pm
  • Sports

Mikheil Saakashvili, the president of Georgia, held a press conference today to address the death of Nodar Kumaritashvili, who died in a luge training run yesterday.

He spoke of Kumaritashvili’s family ties to luge, noting that his father and uncle participated in the sport. Most heartbreaking was when Saakashvili spoke of Kumaritashvili called his parents from Whistler and said they’d be proud of him.

Saakashvili announced plans to build a luge track in Kumaritashvili’s home town, and commended his country’s athletes for deciding to stay and compete:

“I think whatever happened yesterday, the decision of Georgian athletes to continue with competition, it was the very right one, because the Olympic movement is all about perseverance. It’s all about unbroken spirit. It’s about future and strength. No matter what their tragedy, it’s about being the future. It’s about carrying on.”

Saakashvili also talked about the kindness and compassion of Canadians, and thanked the country and the city of Vancouver for the warmth they have shown. Saakashvili was more direct, however, when it came to discussing the actual accident. The result of the investigation of Kumaritashvili’s death showed that he crashed as the result of a mistake heading into the second to last turn, which put him into the last turn to high.

“One thing I know for sure is that no sports mistake is supposed to lead to a death,” he said. “No sports mistake is supposed to be fatal… Questions were asked about this place. There were some suggestions that the wall should have been higher there because there was the eventuality of this happening. Good news is that they’ve built it now, but i think the best news would be in the future, listen more to the grievances of sportsmen, listen more to the sensitivities and we don’t have to do things in the aftermath.”

Georgian figure skater Otar Japaridze also spoke briefly but did not field any questions.

“Of course we are all in bog shock from what happened yesterday,” he said. “This is the lowest, but at the same time the highest point of our careers because of the compassion and the solidarity that we felt from everyone around us. Despite this tragic event, our team will carry on with the dream of Nodar and compete in his honor.”

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