The campus of the Russian International Olympic University (11 Ordzhonikidze Str.) has been inaugurated today in Sochi. At the moment RIOU is rightly regarded as the key element in the humanitarian legacy of Sochi 2014.
Construction of the RIOU campus took about three years. It is located in the city centre, near the upper Primorskaya Embankment and in close proximity to the seaport. In June 2010, Russian President Vladimir Putin and IOC President Jacques Rogge laid a time capsule into the foundation of the University. Interros private investment company was the investor of the project.
RIOU will train new-generation sports managers drawing on Olympic knowledge and experience. The campus is designed to have up to 500 students at any one time and the total annual number of graduates from all RIOU programmes, including short-term courses, will be 2,000.
«Creating a University from zero was not an easy task, but we have accomplished it. RIOU has been providing education and training for over three years. Now we have a state-of-the-art campus, and its inauguration gives the start to our flagship programme – Master of Sport Administration (MSA). It is believed to be an equivalent of MBA in Sport, but in fact the MSA programme is unique in the world. It is based on the expertise of Olympic organisers, which is a kind of top-level management expertise. I am convinced that our University will become a globally recognized and authoritative centre for training specialists in sport management», - said RIOU chief executive Prof. Lev Belousov.
The first intake into the MSA programme includes 27 students from 14 countries (Russia, Uganda, Armenia, Ukraine, India, Poland, the United States, Germany, Guatemala, Sri-Lanka, Brazil, Kazakhstan, Botswana and the Republic of Korea). They are mainly members of National Olympic Committees and employees in the sport industry. A major feature of the course is the opportunity for students to be trained in all the aspects of Olympic Games organisation. The curriculum utilizes both classical and innovative educational models, including traditional lectures and seminars, business workshops, case studies, interactive classes and cascade training. The RIOU faculty is made up of leading Russian and foreign experts. Visiting professors will include over 20 academics from renowned universities and Olympic centres from 10 countries.
In parallel to the MSA programme, RIOU will run short-term courses. On 16–23 September, 2013 the University holds a career enhancement workshop on Sport Management. It is the third cycle of the programme of the Russian Olympians Foundation implemented by RIOU to help Olympians develop professionally after they complete their sport careers. The participants are 25 athletes from 17 Russian regions: Olympic, World, European and Russian National champions and medallists, directors, coaches, specialists from sports training centres, sport schools and federations. Among them are outstanding athletes - five-times Olympic champion Anastasiya Davydova, three-times Olympic champion Olga Brusnikina, two-times Olympic champions Dmitry Sautin and Denis Pankratov, Olympic champion Hasan Baroyev, Olympic medallists Tamerlan Tmenov, Alexey Voyevoda, Sergey Ulegin, Anton Chermashentsev and Ludmila Pazich.
During the campus inauguration ceremony, RIOU and Microsoft signed an Agreement on Cooperation providing for the creation of an up-to-date IT infrastructure that will ensure efficient management of the University's information flows. RIOU also formalized cooperation arrangements with Coventry University, UK, a leader in sport management training. Its Masters degree programmes have been ranked in the world's top 20 postgraduate courses in sport and have the highest ranking (1st–2nd place) for student satisfaction. Dr David Pilsbury, pro-vice-chancellor for international development at Coventry University, said: «Coventry University together with Coventry Business School is honoured to have been invited to play a key part in the development of such a prestigious project with The Russian International Olympic University at Sochi. Following discussions with members of the RIOU Board of Trustees we recognise the synergy that exists between our institutions for sport management courses, especially placing the international dimension at the forefront of student experience. It is clear that Coventry is aligned with and excited to be sharing the vision of RIOU. That vision of creating a world platform for expert dialogue in promoting Olympic ideals for the benefit of sports industry prosperity is one we are fully committed to. Here at Coventry, and particularly The Centre for the International Business of Sport, we are looking forward to working alongside RIOU in educating the sports industry management professionals of the future and contributing to the Games' legacy».
This year professors from Coventry University will be involved in lecturing for the MSA programme, and in future RIOU graduates will have an opportunity to receive dual diplomas from both the universities.
Leaders of the Olympic movement welcomed the launch of the RIOU campus in Sochi.
Thomas Bach, President of the International Olympic Committee : «You are well aware of my high appreciation for the initiative to establish this university. Wishing you all the very best for all your endeavors and an inspiring opening ceremony».
Sergey Bubka, IOC Executive Board member, IAAF Vice president and Ukrainian NOC President: «The opening of the Russian International Olympic University is an extremely important event not only for the Eastern European region, but also for the whole world. It is comparable to the opening of the first universities in mediaeval Europe, which basically initiated the Renaissance. Today, by gathering a vast array of knowledge on the subject of Olympic sports in RIOU and the best practitioners in this area – from top-managers to coaches – we are educating a new generation of experts, people who will professionally manage this area. I look forward to the opening of the campus and the first lectures at RIOU. This is the beginning of the successful long journey».
Dmitry Chernyshenko, President of the Sochi 2014 Organising Committee: «Sochi's Olympic legacy is visible today, and this is best proved by the launch of the state-of-the-art RIOU campus that meets all environmental requirements. The RIOU building has become the first Olympic venue to receive the BREEAM international environmental certificate. The University's programme of professional Olympic education will produce a new constellation of sport managers equipped with the right knowledge to stage major sport events. They will become not only top class specialists, but ambassadors of Olympic and Paralympic ideals and values as well».
Patrick Hickey, IOC member President of the EOC: «Russia is one of the most prominent sporting hosts in the world and it is absolutely right that they are also taking a lead in sports education. RIOU is ideally placed in Sochi to become a centre of Olympic academia and at the same time it is the perfect place to learn about the practical side of organising major sporting events».
Adam Krzesiński, Polish Olympic Committee, Secretary General: «We wish to congratulate you on the accomplishment of this important project of creating a university. It seems to be one of the world's most innovative and pioneer undertakings. We are very pleased that a Polish representative, our best swimmer in history, winner of 3 Olympic medals in the Olympic Games in Athens, Otylia Jedrzejczak, is in the group of MSA students who is starting their education at the University. We believe others will follow her soon».