By Nick Butler

RIOU students being briefed by a member of the IPC Academy ©RIOUMarch 11 - Russian International Olympic University (RIOU) students are learning about the practicalities of hosting a Winter Paralympic Games by engaging in observer and participation programmes with the Sochi 2014 Organising Committee.

The programmes for students on the Master of Sports Administration (MSA) course, which started on Sunday (March 9) and run until the last day of the Games on March 16, are being organised jointly by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Academy and the International World Academy of Sport.

They are designed to help students understand how knowledge acquired by organisers of the current Games is transferred to future Organising Committees, while the Games Experience Programme aims to deliver different perspectives on Games management.

It also offers an understanding of the business potential that sporting events hold.

Both programmes will consist of lectures, seminars and round-table discussions with key officials responsible for the staging of the Games and the development of the Paralympic Movement.

Students have been granted special access to Sochi 2014 venues so they can witness core operating functions - while they will also conduct a detailed survey of more than 200 athletes and media to collect opinions on various aspects of the Games. 

Observer and participation programmes in action at the RIOU during Sochi 2014 ©RIOUObserver and participation programmes in action at the RIOU during Sochi 2014

RIOU was established in 2009 as a part of the Sochi 2014 legacy plans and its main headquarters has relocated to Sochi from Moscow, after Russian President Vladimir Putin officially opened the $500 million (£313 million/€374 million) RIOU Sochi campus last September.

The MSA is one of the flagship courses being offered at RIOU and the importance of the Sochi 2014 programme to the course was something outlined by RIOU Rector Lev Belousov.

"Our students had an excellent chance to get a behind-the-scenes view of the organisation of the recent Olympic Winter Games and now they have a unique opportunity to immerse themselves in the operations behind the Paralympic Winter Games," he said. 

"The organisation of the Paralympic Games is a very complex and subtle logistical process requiring tailored skills and expertise.

"Learning programmes delivered by the IPC Academy ensure direct transfer of such knowledge and provide deep insights into the most important aspects of the Paralympic Movement.

"RIOU students will familiarise themselves with core functional areas such as broadcasting, spectator involvement, and the effective use of Paralympic brands.

"That's why we feel it is important to incorporate practical training at the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games into the MSA course."