Volunteer Legacy of Olympic and Paralympic Games 2014: Organizational and Social Aspects


I.N. Makarova, associate professor. Ph.D.
G.M. Romanova, professor, Dr.Sc. (Econ.)
M.A. Maznichenko, associate professor, Ph.D.
Yu.A. Yurchenko, associate professor, Ph.D.
Sochi State University, Sochi


Key words: Olympic Winter Games 2014, volunteer movement, volunteer legacy of Olympics

An important constituent of the legacy of Olympic and Paralympic Games 2014 is the volunteer legacy [1, 3]. It includes the legal base and the management structure of the volunteer movement in Russia. There is a network of volunteer organizations. 25000 volunteers have gained their volunteer experience, skills of communication and teamwork, social activities and socially useful functions, new knowledge and skills. There are trained volunteer organizers; informational, material and teaching resources. A change in the attitude of people to volunteering is taking place. There are a system of values and a social status of a volunteer in the contemporary Russian society [2].

Among the volunteer legacy of the Games one can identify both positive (aspiration of many volunteers to continue their volunteering, the positive experience of such an activity, an existing organizational structure etc.) and negative aspects (loopholes in legislation, drawbacks of some aspects of the set-up of volunteer activities, “top-down” nature of volunteering initiatives, priority of one side – event volunteering, irregularity of involvement into volunteering activities of different social groups).

The existing volunteering legacy of the Games can and should be used to develop the Russian civic society, to form volunteering as an independent social institute, to promote and develop physical education and sport, solve burning social problems etc. [4].

The most important positive moment of Olympic and Paralympic Games is its legacy. Games Legacy is understood as “sustainable positive changes in social, economic and ecological spheres being created and developed along with the process of preparation and hosting of the Games” [6]. Thanks to the process of preparation and hosting of the Games Russia has gained substantial tangible and intangible legacy. The key element of the intangible legacy of the Games is the volunteering legacy: A. Zhukova argues that one of the virtues of hosting the Sochi Games is the adoption of the barrier free construction standards and the revival of the volunteer movement [4]. Thinking about the volunteer legacy the politician notes that the volunteer movement in Russia has not had such a scale before the Olympic Games. “Here it originated, revived, and I think it will develop further on” [5].

The key elements of the volunteer legacy of the Olympic and Paralympic Games 2014 in Sochi are:

- volunteers: citizens, who were selected based on the results of contests and who gained the valuable experience of preparation and hosting of the Games, acquired new skills, personal qualities, life values, who are ready to implement volunteering projects. The volunteer legacy of the Games is not only 25 thousand Olympic and Paralympic volunteers but also an increased number of Russian citizens who are involved in the volunteer activities. 638 projects implemented together with the partner network of volunteer centers, connecting more than 700 organizations across Russia.

- organizers of the volunteer movement: the Games identified leaders, who are ready to further develop volunteer movement; they have gone through a special training and gained first-hand volunteer organizer experience during the preparation for large scale international cultural and sports events;

- the network of volunteer organizations: 26 Volunteer Training Centers (VTC) were established on the basis of educational institutions of the Russian Federation to select, train and organize volunteers for Olympic Winter and Paralympic Winter Games 2014. After the Games are over, the work of VTCs as specialized training centers to train volunteers is to be continued and their help is to be used to promote the volunteer movement in Russia [5].

- the legal framework and management structure: in the course of volunteer training for the Games the law “On volunteers” was drafted which was widely discussed by officials, volunteer and educational organizations;

- informational resources: the informational resource www.vol.sochi2014.com was created to select volunteers and to organize their activities. The coordination of Volunteer Centers was enhanced by the site “Volunteer Centers of Russia” http://sochi-volunteers.ru. There were created websites (as pages of official educational institutions) of each of the 26 volunteer centers. Thanks to the above-mentioned informational resources Russian citizens learnt more about the selection process, training and the volunteers activities for the Games, about volunteer projects, functions that will be covered by the volunteers along with requirements for the candidates. The volunteers learnt their schedules, team leaders and much more over the Internet. The dedicated informational resources should be further developed to be used to inform the people of the possibilities to participate in the volunteering activities, in the implementation of volunteer projects;

- material resources of volunteer centers: office equipment, furniture, offices, software, uniform and other tangible resources of volunteer centers can be used to further organize their operations;

- teaching resources: the Organizing Committee “Sochi 2014” developed “Methodological recommendations on the organization of the work of volunteer recruitment centers in the Russian Federation to involve volunteers in the preparation and hosting of XXII Olympic Winter and the XI Paralympic Winter Games in Sochi in 2014”. Volunteer and educational institutions, researchers, volunteer organizers prepared numerous training aids, analytical reports, scientific articles and other documents on how to organize the volunteering activity, thus, creating the volunteer training legacy of the Games;

- changes in attitude to volunteering, the social status of a volunteer and a system of values of Russian citizens: an important constituent of the volunteer legacy of the Games is the shift in the attitude of people to volunteering and volunteers, an increase in the social status of a volunteer in the Russian society: before the Games the term “volunteer” has been not known to many Russians and the volunteers were taken as “odd fellows” who “don’t know any better”, but after the Games the volunteering is gaining popularity, resulting in the higher social status of a volunteer. It should be mentioned that the active development of the volunteer movement in Russia during the preparation and hosting of the Games contributed to changes in the values of the Russian people: the values of self-fulfillment, civic activity, social responsibility, volunteer labour for the benefit of the people and society have occupied quite a high place in this hierarchy. The attitude to people with disabilities has dramatically changed: the communication of volunteers with such people during Paralympic Games took down many negative stereotypes in the perception of people with disabilities.

As any legacy, the volunteer legacy of Olympic and Paralympic Games can be divided into positive and negative. The positive legacy has been described above. It should be noted that most Olympic and Paralympic volunteers are ready to continue their involvement in the volunteering projects.

The negative aspects of the volunteer legacy include:

- the “top-down” approach to organization of volunteering: volunteering activities during the Games were administered through a center by the state and the Organizing Committee “Sochi 2014”. As organizers of the volunteer movement, both team leaders and the volunteers have gained an experience of following orders that come from the “top”. In the given circumstances such a structure can be justified. Having said that, the core of the volunteer is the free will to help and by definition such an activity should not have any signs of a forced activity and should not be “pushed” from any side; it should be based on the internal drive to show initiative and creativity;

-  loopholes in legislation: despite the Games giving impetus to changes in the Russian legislation, the effective legal base for volunteers during the preparation and hosting of the Games was not complete;

- some aspects of organization of volunteer activities have not been fully thought through: in particular, some volunteers had poor working schedules, some were not properly informed, had irregular catering and experienced some other problems; having an array of positive moment the “little hitches” in organization affected the overall impression to a certain degree though;

- the priority of one direction of volunteer activity – event volunteering. Such trend is determined by the goals and tasks of the Games. Nevertheless, to form a civic society in Russia and the volunteering as a separate social institute it is necessary to develop different directions: cultural, social, ecological, pedagogical etc.;

- the unbalanced involvement of different social groups into volunteering: volunteers during the Games were mainly students; a separate group was pupils and “silver age” volunteers; adult population (both active labor force and housewives, the unemployed) was not widely represented.

The main goal to use the volunteer legacy of the Games should be the creation in the Russian Federation of an institute of volunteering which, together with other social institutions, is going to assist the implementation of the following goals:

- ideological: social support of moral values of assisting each other, free service, patriotism, civil self-fulfillment, altruism etc.;

- social: assisting to solve social problems which are being not solved or solved ineffectively by the state; employment of people; reducing the rate of crime;

- political: enhancing the development of civic society in Russia;

- pedagogical: the use of volunteering as a means of education, upbringing, professional training, forming of a civic activity, social responsibility, motivation and experience of non-reciprocal activity for the good of the people and the community;

- economic: management of the labor market;

- cultural: educating different strata of society about cultural values, including the values of physical activity and sport.

The volunteer legacy of the Games will “work” towards the above-mentioned goals only if the following conditions are met:

- the volunteering movement becomes an independent social institute;

- the systematic and effective support of volunteering by the state, including the financial support;

- creation of an effective management structure both “grass-roots” (i.e. public council of representatives of volunteer organizations and movements) and “top-down” (a dedicated department under the Ministry of Education and Science of the Russian Federation);

- creation of an effective legal base;

- creation of an effective organizational structure (a network of volunteer organizations) and infrastructure (resource and informational centers, centers for training, web-resources etc.);

- involvement into volunteer movement of famous people who are viewed as authority by different strata of the population (famous politicians, athletes, actors, people of art etc.);

- inclusion of volunteer activity to the curricula at different levels of education (i.e. volunteer practice at schools, volunteer semester in universities etc.);

- promotion of volunteering by means of social advertising, media channels and other outlets.

Sochi State University, being in the epicenter of the Games, became home to the “Forward” Volunteer Training Center received a substantial volunteer legacy. In the near future it is planned to effectively use its legacy in the following directions:

- implementation of a volunteer activity as an effective tool of education, upbringing and professional training of specialists;

- development of “Forward” volunteer training center through the implementation of important social volunteer projects;

- implementation of experience gained by student-volunteers to train other volunteers, create and deliver volunteer projects;

- the use of informational, teaching and material resources of “Forward” volunteer training center with the aim of implementing volunteer projects;

- establishment an Association of Volunteer Centers of the South of Russia on the basis of Sochi University.



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  3. Pavlova, O.I. Social and material legacy as a result of hosting large-scale international sport games in the Russian Federation / O.I. Pavlova G.H. Golubeva, T.G. Kirillova // Theory and practice of physical culture. – 2014. – № 4.
  4. President of ROC: barrier free environment and volunteer movement – main legacy of the Games in Sochi [electronic resource] http://www.olympic.ru/ (In Russian)
  5. Olympic volunteering: questions and answers // http://www.bashgmu.ru/olimpijskoe-volonterstvo-v-voprosakh-i-otvetakh (In Russian)
  6. Report on the legacy of Sochi 2014 // http://gtcdn.sochi2014.com/uplcontent/vusvVz/legacyITOG.pdf (In Russian)