SOCHI, Russia (AP) — They are young, bright and speak good English. Russia has trained 25,000 volunteers to work at the upcoming Sochi Games.
President Vladimir Putin, who views the Olympics that start on Feb. 7 as a top priority of his presidency, met with a few dozen volunteers Friday at a biathlon venue in the mountains above Sochi, saying their work "to a greater extent is key to the atmosphere" at the games.
Volunteer candidates were expected to demonstrate at least an upper-intermediate command of English, and those selected were given online English classes. Some speak several languages.
Most of the volunteers are young and typically undergraduates like Yulia Nagaitseva, a 21-year-old journalism student from the city of Voronezh in southwestern Russia.
Nagaitseva was on a four-month work and travel program in the U.S. when she heard the Sochi organizers' call for volunteers.
"There are once in a lifetime events, and it's one of them," she said after the meeting with Putin. "I couldn't miss it."
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