Intangible legacies of Sochi 2014 already being felt
While the new roads, hotels and venues that have been built in Sochi will provide very visible legacies from the 2014 Olympic Winter Games, a number of intangible legacies are already being felt.
From the creation of a volunteer movement in Russia, to the formation of an expert group of specialists in the management of mega-projects and sports events, Sochi 2014 looks set to leave many lasting benefits to Russian society.
“In Sochi we’re already seeing the amazing transformation that sport and hosting major sport events can bring,” explains Dmitry Chernyshenko, President and CEO of the Sochi 2014 Organising Committee. “The Games are a powerful catalyst to both develop key infrastructure and make changes in Russian society.”
One of the most significant legacies of the Games so far has been the development of a volunteer movement in Russia for the very first time.
In total, 26 volunteer centres have been established in 14 regions of Russia, which have helped select and train volunteers for the Sochi 2014 Winter Games.
“When Sochi began the bidding process in 2005, the concept of volunteering simply did not exist in Russia,” explains Chernyshenko. “Now, the volunteer movement is thriving, with a quarter of a million Russians regularly participating in volunteer activity.”
Indeed, by the end of 2012, around 2,800 projects involving volunteers of the Games were successfully implemented across the country, with Russia climbing to eighth place in the World Giving Index 2012, which measures the number of people involved in voluntary work.
Other legacies from the Games include an Olympic education system, which has been developed to train national and international specialists in sports administration and management, as well as educating students on the Olympic values.
"In 2009, we developed this unique system of educating our people on Olympic values and sports administration," explains Alexander Bryantsev, head of education at Sochi 2014. “It is a life-long system starting in pre-school and carrying on through to degree level.”
A key step in the implementation of the Olympic education system was the “One school, one country" programme, which teaches schoolchildren about the traditions, culture and history of countries participating in the Olympic and Paralympic Games. Approximately 50,000 students and teachers from 73 regions have already attended the programme.
The professional education programme is carried out in conjunction with the Russian International Olympic University (RIOU), which has been founded in Sochi to train a new generation of sports managers in Russia, providing them with expertise on hosting the Olympic Games and the staging of other major sporting events.
“The Russian International Olympic University in Sochi will become the key centre for training a new generation of highly qualified sports managers in Russia,” says Cherynyshenko. “As a result of the Sochi Games, an entire generation will be brought up with awareness and understanding of the Olympic and Paralympic values.”
In February 2014, the first batch of students enrolled in RIOU’s master of sports administration programme.
“During the Games, our students will have the opportunity to learn and practise what they learn,” adds Bryantsev. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
The Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games have also become a catalyst for the development of a "green construction" industry in Russia, which has seen the country’s first national standard for environmental construction passed into law.
The construction of facilities across the country will now be conducted in accordance with these modern environmental requirements, aimed at reducing the consumption of energy resources and mitigating harmful effects on the environment.
So while the Games are still yet to begin, it is clear that the Sochi 2014 Organising Committee have already ensured that their effects will be felt long after the flame has been extinguished on 23 February.
“We’ve dedicated ourselves to thinking long-term, to focus on a true Games legacy that will not only rejuvenate the city of Sochi, but will also contribute to the economic, cultural and environmental development of the Krasnodar region,” says Chernyshenko. “In other words, Sochi will become an example to other Russian cities and the world.”