(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 foreign visitors at test events in Sochi last year spoke highly of the volunteers' language skills. Volunteers were also given classes on cultural awareness that encouraged them to smile, among other things.