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Olympic legacies live on in Russia

2018-06-15 09:53:00

As Russia hosts the FIFA World Cup this summer, the legacies of the Olympic Games will be back in the spotlight.

The world will turn its attention to Sochi again this summer as it will be hosting several matches of the FIFA World Cup, including a quarter-final.

Football fans in Sochi will experience a city full of life. They will likely cross paths with students attending courses inside the Olympic Park, such as Sirius, a special programme for talented children in a unique educational centre in Sochi. It is a place where, every month, 700 children with special talents from all over the country can develop their skills and knowledge in different areas like sport, science and the arts. The Centre uses infrastructure in the Olympic Park, the Shayba Arena, which hosted ice hockey, the former International Broadcast Centre, and the former media and broadcast hotel. It operates all year round. Accommodation and travel costs are covered for the children. Training is run by leading teachers of schools specialising in sport, physics and mathematics, chemistry and biology, as well as by outstanding representatives of the Russian arts community, such as Svetlana Ugarova, former soloist of the Bolshoi Theatre. This May, the graduating students were addressed by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Commenting on the Centre, Modi said: "… here I see very active, energetic children, children who are ready to put all their efforts into contributing to the development of humankind, in general, and Russia in particular and, of course, to do something special."

Another example of an educational institution that is a legacy of the Olympic Winter Games is the Russian International Olympic University (RIOU), which was created in Sochi in 2009, providing education for more than 200 Russian former athletes, with a Master in Sport Management, and producing academic research about the Olympic Movement and the sports sector in general. In 2014, the University trained managers to help deliver the Games.

Four years after the Olympic Games, Sochi has an integrated tourism complex uniting the newly built Olympic facilities with the city's historical centre and the traditional tourist routes. Between 2009 and 2014, Sochi saw a major transformation of its tourism infrastructure, including the construction of new 3-, 4- and 5-star hotels, and the construction or upgrade of several wellbeing resorts. Since 2014, the wellbeing resorts have accounted for 13 to 13.5 per cent of Sochi’s economy. In 2016, the value of services provided by all Sochi wellbeing resort facilities came to USD 700 million. Sochi also now hosts an average of 250 sporting and cultural events every year. Sochi is now a year-round destination, with the skiing facilities of the mountain venues well used.

The legacy of Sochi 2014 travels far beyond the city, as Sochi 2014 created a volunteering culture and network that impacted the entire Russian Federation. The volunteer centres around the country, which were created to help recruit volunteers in 2014, have been active again recruiting new volunteers for the FIFA World Cup 2018.

One the venues for the FIFA World Cup is the Fisht Olympic Stadium, which was built for the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the 2014 Games. After the Games, the Stadium was fully refitted and is now used as a training centre for the Russian national football team as well as for staging large-scale Russian football competitions such as the Russian Cup Final in 2017. In June and July 2017, the Stadium hosted four matches of the FIFA Confederations Cup.

The Fisht Stadium is not the only former Olympic venue being used for the World Cup. The Luzhniki Stadium, which will host the final, was the main stadium for the Moscow 1980 Olympic Games. The then-named Central Lenin Stadium has its roots in the Olympic Games, and was built after the success of the USSR at the Helsinki 1952 Olympic Games to encourage and develop the athletic potential of every citizen.

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