Russia’s landing in El Salvador is moving forward, although the president’s brother admits that details still need to be finalized

The president of INDES, Yamil Bukele, told Around The Rings that the contracts for the San Salvador 2023 Games are already being reviewed in order to sign them with Centro Caribe Sports.


Meeting in Moscow of Salvadoran Yamil Bukele with representatives of the Russian Athletics Federation
Meeting in Moscow of Salvadoran Yamil Bukele with representatives of the Russian Athletics Federation

The first advance of Russian experts to El Salvador in the field of sports could become a reality in November, although sports authorities warned that the project still needs to be made official.

“Moscow is in the process... there are intentions on both sides, but this has not been finalized,” Yamil Bukele, president of the National Sports Institute (INDES), told Around The Rings.

“What there has been is a first meeting based on possible agreements,” he said.

In his recent visit to the Moscow capital, Bukele met with representatives of the Russian Athletics Federation and announced that Russia could become a “strategic ally” for the development of sport in El Salvador and that they would start working together to achieve this “as soon as possible”.

“We even established that in a very near time a group of Russian coaches will travel to El Salvador to start working on the training of their national colleagues, in joint work with the Salvadoran Athletics Federation,” he wrote in his social networks.

“But that’s not all. We will also initiate contact with the Russian Ministry of Sports to seek cooperation in the training of sports administrators in the more than 14 universities in this country dedicated to that field.”

“I can summarize that this meeting becomes a hopeful alliance between one of the greats of world sport and another who wants to be great,” Bukele published from Moscow days ago where he attended the world beach soccer championship in the well-known Luzhniki stadium.

In his dialogue with Around The Rings, the president of Indes did not specify the number of Russian experts that would land in San Salvador.

The official, a former national basketball selection who currently holds important positions in this sport at international level, commented that the first Russian technicians could arrive in November, but reiterated that until today there has only been a first conversation between Moscow and San Salvador.

“There is only an intention... We must continue talking to refine details of the agreement,” said the executive, brother of the president of El Salvador, Nayib Bukele.

To a question, he did not rule out that the Russians would also join the preparation of Salvadoran athletes with a view to the Central American and Caribbean Games that should be inaugurated in that country in 20 months.

“I can’t give much more details (of the agreement) because I don’t want to make the mistake of whether things happen or not,” Bukele reiterated.

“We are in talks. Our sport needs investment, it needs to grow, but I don’t know what day or at what point we are going to start managing. We still have to define several things”, he pointed out.

If this agreement within the “sports diplomacy” becomes a reality, the Russian presence could be the largest in El Salvador in the history of foreign cooperation in this sphere, after the one registered by the Cubans at the beginning of the 21st century when the Central American country organized the Central Caribbean Games in 2002.

In contrast, and at the last minute, the Cuban delegation did not attend that regional mega-event by decision of Fidel Castro.

Bukele, who is president of the San Salvador 2023 Organizing Committee, also revealed to ATR that they are currently “in the process of reviewing the contracts”, a procedure that is also being followed by the leadership of Centro Caribe Sports, which has planned to travel in the coming days to the Central American venue to sign these agreements.

Bukele recalled the challenge that has represented to save the continuity of the Games and trusts in the agreement of both parties.

He hopes that “note will be taken” at the time of the approvals, since there is no “regular four-year process” for the organization of the mega-event. The executive estimated that despite the short time remaining, the purpose is “to make the best Games in history”.

The Games will be held from May 12 to 27, 2023, after being moved from March, as planned, to guarantee repairs to the sports facilities, most of which were used during the 2002 version organized by San Salvador. The Central American capital had organized them for the first time in 1935.

Originally, they were scheduled for 2022 with headquarters in Panama, a country that suddenly resigned last summer due to the effects of Covid-19.

Last April, the other emerging candidate along with San Salvador, the Puerto Rican city of Mayaguez, withdrew from the race because it did not have the economic resources from the government.

The government of El Salvador will modernize 25 sports complexes over the next two years with a loan of more than US$115 million from the Central American Bank for Economic Integration (CABEI).

It is not yet clear how the use of Bitcoin as legal tender in El Salvador as of September 7 will impact the Games process. For the time being, its debut provoked street protests.

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