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Sport in Belarus

Minsk Half Marathon
Minsk Half Marathon

Physical education and competitive sport have long been a priority for Belarus, as reflected in its world-class training facilities, international sporting achievements and healthy lifestyle among its residents.

The number of big international tournaments held in Belarus increases every year. Belarus hosted 30 of them in 2015, 67 in 2016, and more than 80 in 2017. The largest of them included the 2014 IIHF World Championship, the 2015 IBU Youth/Junior World Championships, the aerials and rhythmic gymnastics world cups, and the 2018 UCI Track Cycling World Cup. In 2019 the Raubichi Olympic Center hosted the Summer Biathlon World Championships. The major sports event of 2019 was the 2nd European Games in Minsk.

The calendar of future sports events is as interesting. 

Sports facilities in Belarus

The government policy is to make sports accessible to all in Belarus. Along with the development of elite sports, the country also supports mass, children's and youth sports. The country has excellent sporting facilities in pre-schools, schools and higher education facilities.

There were over 23,000 sports facilities in Belarus for general use (as of 2022). They included:

  • 177 stadiums
  • 365 swimming pools (more than 900 togetehr with mini pools)
  • 59 indoor sports centers
  • 4,500 gyms
  • 44 ice rinks
  • 560 shooting ranges

For professional athletes and sports enthusiasts there are a wide range of world-class sports facilities in Belarus, which often host big international competitions. They include:

  • Minsk Arena multi-purpose sports and entertainment center (the fourth biggest sports arena in Europe);
  • Chizhovka Arena multi-purpose cultural, sports and entertainment center;
  • Uruchye sports center;
  • Dinamo National Olympic Stadium, which can host both football matches and athletics competitions;
  • Freestyle sports training center with a sports and recreation complex;
  • Raubichi National Winter Olympic Center;
  • Stayki National Olympic Center;
  • National Olympic Equestrian Sports and Horse Breeding in Ratomka;
  • Regatta courses in Brest and Zaslavl;
  • Logoisk ski resort;
  • Silichi ski resort;
  • Borisov Arena, the home ground of Belarus’ FC BATE Borisov and the national football team, which made it to the top ten stadiums in the world commissioned in 2014.

Most popular Belarus sports

According to the statistics, over 2.5 million Belarusians, over 27% of the country’s total population, do sport regularly.

The Belarusian government supports the development of over 130 sports in the country. Amongst the most popular are:

  • track and field athletics
  • football
  • gymnastics
  • skiing
  • ice hockey
  • tennis
  • wrestling
  • volleyball
  • handball
  • swimming
  • chess and checkers

Minsk Half Marathon has been held in Belarus since 2013. Every year (except for the pandemic year of 2020), Minsk draws thousands of running enthusiasts. Minsk Half Marathon has been awarded the Silver Label by the World Athletics Association.

Every year Belarus holds such sports festivals as Minsk Triathlon, Bison Race, Viva Rovar! cycling event and many others.

Raubichi Centre

The National Winter Olympic Training Center Raubichi is considered one of the best biathlon centers in the world.

Raubichi facilities include:

  • 6.2km roller ski track
  • 20.5km ski tracks
  • shooting grounds
  • indoor skating rink with locker rooms, a sauna, a gym, a cafe, equipment rentals
  • gyms
  • 150m ski track
  • freestyle skiing slope
  • synthetic tennis courts
  • outdoor playground
  • equipment rentals

Apart from sports facilities, the National Winter Olympic Training Center Raubichi has two 4-star hotels, restaurants, cafes, conference rooms.

Professional sports in Belarus

The National Winter Olympic Training Center Raubichi, built to host the 1974 Biathlon World Championships, is considered one of the best biathlon centers in the world. In 1996 the International Biathlon Union certified Raubichi as an A category stadium that can host any kind of competitions without exceptions.

Following a major makeover the center got super-modern  infrastructure, which was highly lauded by athletes, coaches, judges, journalists and thousands of fans.

Raubichi is one of the country’s biggest sports facilities available for all winter sports amateurs. At the same time it is a training base for professional athletes. The center is open year-round for Belarusian and foreign national teams. Among the renowned athletes training here are many-time Olympic champions Darya Domracheva and Ole Einar Bjoerndalen.

Raubichi facilities include:

  • modern ski tracks (1.5km, 2km, 2.5km, 3km, 3.3km), training tracks (up to 5km)
  • shooting grounds with 36 targets (Kurvinen)
  • outdoor stands for 2,500 people
  • indoor shooting room with ten targets (Kurvinen)
  • wax cabins and facilities to keep sports equipment
  • jury pavilion (facilities for judges, secretariat, guest rooms)
  • press center with the total area of over 600m² (a conference hall, a doping control room)
  • ice rink (an ice hockey rink with IIHF standard stands, a gym and ten locker rooms; a futsal field and a warm-up area)
  • freestyle center
  • universal sports gym (basketball, futsal, handball, volleyball)
  • outdoor playground (football and basketball grounds, eight tennis courts)
  • football pitch with artificial turf (90x50m)
  • healthcare unit

Apart from sports facilities, the National Winter Olympic Training Center Raubichi has three hotels, guest houses and also conference rooms, restaurants, cafes, a bar-pizzeria and a mini cafe.

Professional sports in Belarus

Professional athletes are trained at 464 organizations of physical education and sports in Belarus.

These include:

  • Belarusian State University of Physical Education
  • 11 Olympic colleges
  • 453 Olympic schools
  • 250 youth sports schools

One of the biggest events on the Belarusian children’s sports calendar is the Nationwide School Sports Meeting which was resumed in 2006 following the instruction of the head of state.

Apart from it, the country hosts more than 100 sports tournaments among children, including:

  • National ice hockey competitions Golden Puck for the prizes of the President of Belarus
  • National biathlon competitions Snowy Sniper
  • National football competitions Leather Ball
  • National handball competitions Fast Ball
  • National school chess competitions White Rook
  • Golden Fish swimming festival
  • Football Holidays festival

Future athletes in Belarus are trained in 28 Olympic sports and 36 sports that are not part of the Olympic program. Belarus has already produced 280 world and European champions in a wide range of sporting disciplines

Belarus and the Olympics

The country has an excellent record at the Olympic Games. 200 Belarusians have so far won Olympic champion titles and medals. Belarusians debuted in the Olympics in the 1952 Helsinki Games, as part of the USSR team.

After the official recognition of the Belarusian National Olympic Committee at the 101st session of the International Olympic Committee in Monaco on 21 September 1993, the independent Belarus Olympic team has taken part in 13 Olympic Games and won 98 medals, including 20 gold, 34 silver and 44 bronze medals.

  • 1994 Lillehammer: 2 silver medals
  • 1996 Atlanta: 1 gold, 6 silver and 8 bronze medals
  • 1998 Nagano: 2 bronze medals
  • 2000 Sydney: 3 gold, 3 silver and 11 bronze medals
  • 2002 Salt Lake City: 1 bronze medal
  • 2004 Athens: 2 gold, 5 silver and 8 bronze medals
  • 2006 Turin: 1 silver medal
  • 2008 Beijing: 3 gold, 4 silver and 6 bronze medals
  • 2010 Vancouver: 1 gold, 1 silver and 1 bronze medals
  • 2012 London: 2 gold, 5 silver and 3 bronze medals
  • 2014 Sochi: 5 gold and 1 bronze medals – a record-high 8th place in the Olympic medal count. At the Sochi Games three gold medals were clinched by Belarusian biathlete Darya Domracheva.
  • 2016 Rio: 1 gold, 4 silver and 4 bronze medals
  • 2018 PyeongChang: 2 gold and 1 silver medals
  • 2020 Tokyo: 1 gold, 3 silver and 3 bronze medals
  • 2022 Beijing: 2 silver medals

Olympic champions:

  • Ekaterina Karsten (rowing, 1996, 2000)
  • Ellina Zvereva (athletics, discus throwing, 2000)
  • Yanina Karolchyk (athletics, shot putter, 2000)
  • Igor Makarov (judo, 2004)
  • Yulia Nesterenko (athletics, 100m, 2004)
  • Aleksei Abalmasov, Artur Litvinchuk, Vadim Makhnev and Roman Petrushenko (men’s kayak four, 2008)
  • Andrei Aryamnov (weightlifting, 2008)
  • Aleksandr and Andrei Bogdanovich (men’s canoe two, 2008)
  • Victoria Azarenka and Max Mirnyi (tennis, mix, 2012)
  • Sergei Martynov (shooting, 2012)
  • Aleksei Grishin (aerials, 2010)
  • Darya Domracheva (biathlon, three gold medals, 2014)
  • Alla Tsuper (aerials, 2014)
  • Anton Kushnir (aerials, 2014)
  • Vladislav Goncharov (trampoline, 2016)
  • Anna Guskova (aerials, 2018)
  • Nadezhda Skardino, Irina Krivko, Dinara Alimbekova and Darya Domracheva (biathlon, women’s relay, 2018)
  • Ivan Litvinovich (Men’s Trampoline, 2020 Tokyo (2021)

There are 3 Olympic training centers in Belarus, in Stayki, Raubichi and Ratomka. Many famous Olympians have come from Belarus.

Belarus and the Paralympics

Belarus also fields a strong Paralympics team that has so far won more than 100 medals.

  • 1996 Atlanta: 3 gold,  3 silver and 7 bronze medals
  • 2000 Sydney: 5 gold, 8 silver and 10 bronze medals
  • 2002 Salt Lake City: 1 gold and 1 silver medals
  • 2004 Athens: 10 gold, 12 silver and 7 bronze medals
  • 2006 Turin: 1 gold, 6 silver and 2 bronze medals
  • 2008 Beijing: 5 gold, 7 silver and 1 bronze medals
  • 2010 Vancouver: 2 gold and 7 bronze medals
  • 2012 London: 5 gold, 2 silver and 3 bronze medals
  • 2014 Sochi: 3 bronze medals
  • 2016 Rio: 8 gold and 2 bronze medals
  • 2018 PyeongChang: 4 gold, 4 silver and 4 bronze medals
  • 2020 Tokyo: 5 gold, 1 silver and 1 bronze medals

With ten medals (five golds, two silvers and three bronzes) Belarus finished 25th in the medal table of the 14th Summer Paralympics in London. Out of 10 medals six were brought to Belarus by swimmer Igor Boki in S13 and SM13 classifications.

At the Winter Paralympics 2014 in Sochi the Belarusian team won 3 bronze medals to place 18th in the medal table. Belarus’ Vasily Shapteboi and Yadwiga Skorobogataya won bronze medals in biathlon and cross-country skiing.

The summer Rio Paralympics brought Belarus 8 gold medals: 6 were won by Igor Boki, two more by Andrei Pranevich and Vladimir Izotov.

At the 12th Winter Paralympics in PyeongChang Belarus showed its best ever result claiming 8th place in the medal standings with 12 medals (4 gold, 4 silver and 4 bronze medals).

Great Patriotic War monuments in Belarus