Russian International Olympic University Readies for Launch
Professor Lev Belousov and his RIOU spokesman at SportAccord. (ATR)
(ATR) Professor Lev Belousov promises a curriculum “unique in the world” as Russian International Olympic University readies for launch.
“Have you ever seen crazy people?” he asked reporters at the open of recent roundtable in Quebec City.
“Now you can see two of them,” he joked with reference to an RIOU spokesman seated to his left.
“When we started our project in 2008, we had absolutely nothing. We didn’t have a campus, we didn’t have teachers, we didn’t have students. We had only the desire to create a university starting from the very beginning, starting from zero.”
Now the RIOU is actually making its debut of sorts at the London Olympics, where a launch event will introduce prospective students to the Master of Sport Administration program.
The purpose of the MSA course is three-fold: to educate Games staff; to prepare managers for the industry of sport; and to preserve the legacy of Sochi 2014.
Russia already has 225,000 managers for sport, according to Belousov, but most are around 50 or 55 years old.
“We have to prepare a new generation of managers because we are now coming to the mega-sport events,” he said, citing the 2014 Winter Olympics, 2015 Men’s Ice Hockey World Championship and 2018 FIFA World Cup, all three hosted by Russia.
Belousov, also CEO of the RIOU, said he expects his campus in downtown Sochi to be ready next May or June for up to 50 students.
Though the classrooms fit up to 500, this first cohort will be small simply because all the Black Sea resort’s hotels are already fully booked for the Games.
An artist's rendering of the completed campus. (RIOU)
Accommodations are included as part of “mid-European level” tuition fees, and distance-learning courses are also in the works.
Given the RIOU’s proximity to both the coastal and mountain clusters for Sochi 2014, however, the full one-year MSA is clearly the focus here.
“It’s only five minutes’ walk and you will swim in the water, or only 40 minutes’ ride by train and you may ski,” Belousov said.
“I fear that our students will not have enough time for study,” the professor added with a laugh.
the MSA program must hold at least a bachelor’s degree, must come from the sports industry and must submit a personal statement answering why they wish to enroll and what they hope to glean from the curriculum.
“This program is unique in the world, I can say it without any doubt. Why?” asked Belousov.
“Because it’s based on our knowledge of how to prepare the Games starting from the bidding process up to the Games themselves.”
RIOU professors are busy collecting bid documents from Sochi 2014, the IOC and others as they prepare for their inaugural school year.
Belousov, meanwhile, is focused on the London launch.
Russian Olympic Committee chief Alexander Zhukov, Sochi 2014 president and CEO Dmitry Chernyshenko as well as International Ice Hockey Federation boss Rene Fasel are among invited panelists for the July 30 event at the ROC’s still-to-be-determined hospitality area in London.
Curriculum developers will handle the academic side of the presentation while augmented reality technology will showcase a completed campus, the RIOU spokesman let slip.
“This is our secret,” Belousov scolded his colleague before stressing that registration is now open
for those who wish to come and experience the RIOU launch themselves.
Reported by Matthew Grayson
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