By Duncan Mackay

Sochi 2014 Paralympics mascotsDecember 14 - Russia should use the strength of its team to help raise interest at the 2014 Winter Paralympics in Sochi, they have been told.

That was one of the key recommendations to emerge from the latest project review carried out by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) following the meeting with Sochi 2014 in Moscow today, along with ensuring that the test events, which are due start with the World Wheelchair Curling Championships on February 16.

"Next year is vitally important with test events in all five sports taking place to fully test some of the operational assumptions, the launch of tickets sales and the challenge of engaging and communicating with Russian, and especially Sochi citizens, about the Games," said Xavier Gonzalez, the chief executive of the IPC.

"In addition to capitalising on next year's test events, Sochi 2014 must use all of next year's World Championships in winter sports to further raise awareness of the Games and complement the work already planned within the Paralympic Awareness programme."

Russia won more medals at the 2010 Winter Paralympics in Vancouver than any other country, claiming a total of 38.

But they finished only second on the overall medals table because their 12 gold were one less than Germany.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has set the team the target of finishing top at Sochi 2014, which is due to be held between March 7 and 16.

"Looking at the competition results of the last two years, Russia is likely to have one of the strongest teams competing at the Winter Paralympics in 2014 and have a very good chance of winning many gold medals," said Gonzalez.

"It is important that the Organising Committee uses this strength to their full advantage between now and the Games."

The project review also included updates on sport, broadcasting, communications, venues and accommodation, look and brand, transport, ticketing, commercial and sponsorship, National Paralympic Committee services and Paralympic Torch Relay.

"Preparations for Sochi 2014 are really stepping up now with many of the venues and infrastructure coming online," said Gonzalez.

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