By Tom Degun

Sochi 2014 volunteersDecember 5 - Sochi 2014 have announced that volunteer applications for their Winter Olympics and Paralympic Games will close on March 1, 2013.

The announcement comes with today marking International Volunteer Day and interest in volunteering for Sochi 2014 has so far been huge.

To date, there have been over 140,000 applications for the Winter Games in the Russian city and Sochi 2014 has already chosen over 80 per cent of the candidates as volunteers.

Over the next four months, five thousand volunteers will attend training by taking part in the Sochi 2014 test events where they will work over 50,000 shifts and will become some of the first people to see the Games venues.

One of their key learnings will be working in conditions that will closely resemble those at the actual Games and they will then share the knowledge they received with their colleagues from all 26 Sochi 2014 volunteer centres across Russia.

During the test events, thevolunteers will be provided with everything they need for free including accommodation, food, clothing and transportation.

"We are very proud of our volunteers," said Sochi 2014 President and chief executive Dmitry Chernyshenko.

Dmitry ChernyshenkoSochi 2014 President and chief executive Dmitry Chernyshenko says is proud of the volunteers for the Winter Games

"They have already proved themselves at the Games in London and at the test events.

"Now they are going through one of the most complex experiences - the work at the numerous test competitions of the 2012-2013 season, which will become the 'dress rehearsal' for the Games in Sochi.

"I have no doubt that our volunteers will work conscientiously and get a great deal of useful experience at the events.

"The friendly team atmosphere and the Olympic spirit will help them reach their full potential."

More than 100 Sochi 2014 volunteers have already worked at the Federation Cup in figure skating, the Russia Cup in bobsled and skeleton, the Russia Cup in luge and international training week in luge.

Sports volunteers are preparing venues for the competitions and helping athletes prepare for the events while general volunteers are meeting and accompanying international sports federation delegations and helping spectators get to the stands.

They are also working as translators.

"It's one thing to watch sports competitions on television, but another to take part," said Sochi 2014 volunteer Yaroslav Migachev.

"Working as a volunteer is great as you are given the opportunity to get really involved with the sport that you are helping in.

"You get to know all of the rules and subtleties and that sport stops being a mystery from the television screen.

"I became particularly interested in bobsledding through volunteering. Previously,

"I hadn't been interested in that sport at all, now I love it. It was exciting and interesting to work here.

"During the test events in Sochi we learned new skills and gained new hobbies.

"We will return home with new ideas and interests, and will transfer our experience and enthusiasm to other Sochi 2014 volunteers."

To mark the countdown to the close of Sochi 2014 volunteer applications, a countdown clock has appeared on the application page, which is available by clicking here.

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