The Russian International Olympic University (RIOU) celebrated the inauguration of its state-of-the-art campus in Sochi with a ceremony attended by world leaders in sport and the Olympic Movement, including President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin; deputy Prime Minister, Dmitry Kozak; President of the Russian Olympic Committee, Alexander Zhukov; and Chairman of the IOC Coordination Commission for Sochi 2014, Jean-Claude Killy. RIOU was established in 2009 as a part of the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games' legacy plans, and aims to train a new generation of sports managers in both the strategic and operational skills needed to manage sports organisations, facilities and events, across the Olympic Movement and the wider sporting world. The campus is located in the centre of Sochi, close to the city's seaport, and can accommodate 500 students at any one time, with the number of annual graduates totaling 2,000.
RIOU Rector Prof. Lev Belousov said: "The Olympic family has no boundaries, and RIOU's creation is a perfect example of this. Building a university from nothing has not been an easy task, but we have accomplished it. Our goal is to train the next generation of sports leaders by drawing on the vast Olympic knowledge and experience that RIOU's professors, visiting experts and the Sochi 2014 Organising Committee possess. "I am delighted that so many sport leaders have been able to attend the campus inauguration today. To me it feels like the Opening Ceremony of an Olympic or Paralympic Games, which I hope many of our students will take leading roles in organising in the future."
RIOU's campus inauguration also marks the start of its flagship course, a Master of Sport Administration (MSA). The programme is unique in sports education and draws on the expertise of Olympic organisers, with leading Russian and foreign experts heading up the MSA faculty. The course's first intake will consist of 27 students, the majority of whom are from National Olympic Committees or the sport industry. The students hail from 14 countries across the Olympic Movement, including Russia, Uganda, Armenia, India, the Republic of Korea and Brazil, and will receive tutoring from RIOU's expert lecturers as well as more than 20 visiting academics from renowned universities during the year. 20 students, including Olympic swimming champion Otylia Jędrzejczak of Poland, have been awarded scholarships for the inaugural MSA course by the Vladimir Potanin Foundation.
Vladimir Potanin, chairman of the private investment company Interros, a major investor in RIOU, added: "This is a great day for sport in Russia and for the Olympic Movement in general. It has been a lot of hard work to get the university ready in just four years but I am certain that it will pay off and I look forward to helping RIOU become a globally recognised training centre for specialists in sport management. The MSA course is about to start and I wish all of the Vladimir Potanin Foundation scholars the very best of luck with their studies. They have been awarded scholarships because of their commitment to sport and their talents are exceptional. I have no doubt they will go on to become excellent sports management leaders."
Dmitry Chernyshenko, President of the Sochi 2014 Organising Committee, said: "RIOU's state-of-the-art campus, which meets all environmental requirements, is a clear example of Sochi's Olympic legacy. The RIOU building has become the first Olympic venue to receive the BREEAM international environmental certificate. The University's Olympic education programme will produce a new constellation of professional 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."
During the campus inauguration ceremony, RIOU and Microsoft signed an Agreement on Cooperation to provide the university with up-to-date IT infrastructure to ensure the efficient management of the University's information flows. RIOU also formalised cooperation arrangements with Coventry University, a British university and leader in sport management training.