Professional sports have been in the limelight in Belarus for a long time. The country has always been very active in sports, particularly the Olympics, where they have been participating since the 1950s.
Belarus has produced many renowned Olympic champions over the years, including Olga Korbut, the famous gymnast, and Alexander Medved, the world-renowned wrestler. Moreover, Belarus’s tennis players, football, and ice-hockey teams also participate in international tournaments and have put their country on the global sports map.
When it comes to picking the most popular sports, it is hard to pick just one since the locals like to participate in so many sports. This article highlights five of the most popular sports prevailing in Belarus. Let’s have a look.
Football In Belarus
Football is, hands down, the most popular sport in Belarus. It is also the country’s national sport. Belarus has implemented a development program to promote skills building at the grass-root level. It is why there are numerous football fields in different places in the country, including education centres.
The Football Federation of Belarus is responsible for regulating the sport in the country. Since Belarus gained independence in 1991, the country’s national tea has not been able to qualify for the UEFA Championship or the FIFA World Cup.
There are various facilities where individuals can play for free. Besides the country’s national football teams, there are various football leagues, including the Association of Amateur Football, Amateur Football League, Minsk League of Amateur Futsal, and Minsk League of Football. These leagues organise matches regularly to promote the sport throughout the country.
Tennis In Belarus
Belarus may not have a rich tennis history like the European countries, but it is one of the most popular sports in the country and is played widely. Belarusian tennis players are among the world’s finest players and have made their country proud on several occasions.
Belarusian tennis players Victoria Azarenka and Arnya Sabalenka are both in the top twenty players in the WTA rankings.
Tennis is not only popular as a participatory sport, but it is also widely enjoyed as a spectator sport in the country. The locals love to watch tennis players in action. The Republic Tennis Centre is the main tennis facility in Minsk. It is one of the country’s most popular and busy sporting facilities.
Ice Hockey In Belarus
While summer sports are closely followed in Belarus, winter sports are not far behind either. Belarusians love ice skating and snowboarding when it snows in the country. However, ice hockey remains the most popular winter sport. Minsk has many hockey clubs and sporting facilities.
One of these is the Minsk Arena, multipurpose sports and entertainment centre. The ice-hockey stadium is the third largest ice hockey arena in the continent. Other facilities include the Chizhovka Arena and the Sports Palace.
The Belarusian Ice Hockey Association regulates sports in the country. The national team ranks 14th according to the IIHF rankings, 2021. The national team achieved its best results in the 2002 Winter Olympics. It beat Sweden in the quarter-finals and ended in fourth place in the tournament.
Belarus has been banned from the IIHF events, including the IIHF Championship 2023, due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Athletics In Belarus
Next on our list is athletics. Belarus’s participation and performance in the Olympics athletic events are a testament to the country’s dedication to the sport and its residents’ love for various forms of athletics.
Belarusians regularly follow their national teams and athletes during international tournaments and the Olympics. The Belarus Athletic Federation is the regulating body for athletics in Belarus. The country’s athletes have regularly featured in various events, including sprint races, hurdle races, marathons, pole vaults, long jumps, hammer, discus throws, and javelin throws. However, due to the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine, Belarus has been banned from participating in and hosting international athletic events for the foreseeable future. The political climate has caused a huge setback to the development and growth of various sports in the country.
Wrestling In Belarus
Last but not least, we have wrestling among the most popular sports in Belarus. The love for the sport emerges from the Belarusians’ eagerness to show their physical strength, endurance, and agility. Wrestling is one of the oldest sports to have become popular in Belarus, with Greco-Roman wrestling as the most popular form.
One of the most renowned wrestlers to date is Vladimir Zubkov, the only Belarusian athlete who won the world championship in Greco-Roman wrestling four times in 1971, 1973, 1974, and 1975. He is also the only four-time winner of the World Championship in the weight category of up to 48 kg.
An international tournament was introduced in his memory in 1994 to promote Greco-Roman wrestling in the country. The wrestling federation takes a keen interest in organising training programs and seminars to promote skill building of players and transfer knowledge to the referees and coaches.