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Interview of Minister Simona Kustec for the Japanese newspaper Sankei

Today The Slovenian Minister of Education, Science and Sport dr. Kustec spoke to the Sankei Newspaper in Tokyo.

She praised the efforts of the Japanese people, including the organising committee, to hold the Games despite the challenges caused by the novel coronavirus and said, "All athletes who come to Japan and compete in the Games under these difficult circumstances are medallists."

Minister Kustec recalled that the opening ceremony with no spectators felt lonely at first, but as the ceremony progressed she was able to concentrate on the staging more, which she found very moving. The opening of the Olympics, she said, "showed us that humanity can move forward in spite of the various coronavirus restrictions" and that "we could see the Olympics from a new perspective".

As for the swimming, judo and other games she watched in support of her country's athletes, she noted that "there were some people in the hall, but it didn't feel crowded. I was able to enjoy the events". On the other hand, she was concerned about how the athletes feel, since there was a lack of cheering atmosphere.

Regarding Pogačar, who won a bronze medal in the men's road cycling race on July 24th, she said: "He did a great job in difficult weather and conditions. He was expected to win gold, but nevertheless he is a national hero. His bronze medal is worth as much as if it was gold."

She stressed that she is convinced that it that these Olympics will send a message to the world that we must work together and move forward.

She explained that Slovenia, as the country presiding over the Council of the European Union, had proposed to the International Olympic Committee for the EU flag to be flying alongside Slovenian own flag at the opening ceremony, but the proposal has been rejected. She said: "We wanted to show that the Olympic ideals of peace and unity coincide with the EU's ideals for sport, and that the EU is willing to support the Olympics."

Interview was officially published in Japanese language and is available here