MOSCOW – IIHF President René Fasel has been awarded the Order of Friendship of Peoples by Russia’s President Dmitri Medvedev. The order, also commonly known as "Druzhba" ("Friendship"), is the highest Russian award that can be presented to a foreigner.
The ceremony took place on Tuesday, November 22 at Mr. Medvedev’s Gorki residence where was Fasel was awarded along with with IOC President Jacques Rogge, Lamine Diack (President of the International Athletics Federation, IAAF) and Tamas Ajan (President of the International Weightlifting Federation, IWF).
Other than the new laureates of the Russian State Order, President Medvedev also invited all Russian athletes who had won 2011 World Championship titles for Russia in Olympic Summer Sports.
In his speech, Dmitry Medvedev held the awardees Rogge, Ajan, Diack and Fasel in very high regard:
"You do very much for the popularity of sport, with the international federations which you lead. In Russia, there are many athletes and, in particular, a whole army of fans involved in your sports. Millions of people celebrate your sports in numerous arenas all over the world as one big festivity. One more time and from the bottom of my heart that I hereby bestow you with this state order."
Upon receipt of his honour, René Fasel addressed the audience in Russian, to the delight of President Medvedev and the distinguished guests. He noted that, in whatever way, the single most important thing in sport was discipline, and he further added that also battles on ice between two competing countries must always end amicably.
In response to the question, where he had learned his remarkable Russian skills, President Fasel pointed at his teacher – Vladislav Tretiak.
The President of the Russian Ice Hockey Federation and international hockey’s most decorated player was of course on hand for the ceremony.
René Fasel has been IIHF President since 1994 and member of the IOC since 1995.
Fasel has been serving as the president of the Association of the International Olympic Winter Sports Federations (AIOWF) since 2002. He was also the chairman of the 2010 Vancouver Olympics Co-ordination Committee.
In 2004, Fasel was given the prestigious Legion of Honour Award which is the highest award given by the French Republic for outstanding service to France, regardless of the nationality of the recipient.
for a video of the ceremony from Russian TV1. By IIHF.com staff