Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC

Castro on Possibility of National Sports Games

FL171604 Havana Tele-Rebelde Network in Spanish 1300 GMT 17 Mar 88

[From the sports segment of the program "Morning Magazine"]

[Text] Commander in Chief Fidel Castro, first secretary of the PCC Central
Committee and president of the Councils of State and Ministers, last night
presented Olympic awards to all those Cuban athletes who have won gold,
silver, and bronze medals at the Summer Olympics.  The formal ceremony was
held at the FAR's Universal Hall and was also attended by other party and
sports officials.  Here is an excerpt of the ceremony:

[Begin recording in progress:  video shows Castro on the stage, presenting
pins to each individual as names are called out by an off-camera announcer] Mexico, 1968.

Boxing:  (Enrique Regueinfero), silver medalist in Mexico, 1968.

Boxing:  Teofilo Stevenson, three-time Olympic champion--gold medalist in
Munich, 1972; Montreal, 1976; and Moscow, 1980.  [video shows Castro and
Stevenson shaking hands, talking briefly] [end recording]

Moments later, our commander addressed the honorees and guests at the
request of Comrade Alberto Juantorena.  Here is an excerpt of the speech:

[Begin Castro recording] I want to tell you comrades that this has been a
simple but moving ceremony.  In only a few minutes, we have relived your
glory and the country's glory.  Will our sports decline?  No, our sports
will not decline.  Our sports will be invigorated.  We are men of honor,
men who can go anywhere with our heads held high, men who can let the sun,
the light of dignity, shine on our faces.  Though we don't go this time, we
are already preparing for the Pan-American Games.

We are building installations.  However, we said building would go on with
or without the Pan-American Games.  And it is.  No one can stop
construction.  Now, the Pan-American Games are a good thing, but they are
more of a pretext to build a good number of sports facilities.  And we are
going to build them all.  You can see yourselves that they are being built
here in the capital.  Suppose there are no Pan-American Games.  Who are
these facilities for?  For the people, our youth, our athletes.  Are we
going to stop building sports facilities after the Pan-American Games?  No.
Once we warm up, no one can stop us from building sports facilities.

There will come a time, a time will come again, when we can attend these
events with honor.  We hope that we are nor unfairly robbed of the
Pan-American Games.  But not even that would slow down our sports movement.

I can understand that there might be athletes eligible to participate in
these Olympics but who won't be able to take part in the next ones, or who
may no longer be able to take part in the Pan-American Games.  However, in
a country such as ours, with such a developed sense of unity and
solidarity, it should not be a trauma for anyone.  The medals of the others
are our medals.  The honor of the others is our honor.  The athletes will
always have the respect and affection of our people.  With or without
medals, with or without Olympics--in international and national
competition, they will always enjoy all regard and respect.

We will consider the merit in this.  We should make a list of those who,
capable of winning an Olympic medal, did not because they could not attend
the games.  We could hold competitions here and see how things go.  Then we
will award the medal of honor to those athletes who, to observe a
principle, to practice solidarity, were unable to get a gold, silver, or
bronze medal.  We are going to give those athletes the gold medal of honor.
They will not be forgotten.  [applause] [end recording]