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SOCHI, October 23. /TASS/. Development of mass sports in the country is a vital military aspect giving Russia an advantage in the competitive struggle with other states in the economic and other spheres, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday.
Putin met with the members with the Association of Students Sports Clubs (ASSC) who are passing a sports test in the Winter Olympics city of Sochi, similar to the GTO (Russian acronym for "Ready for Labor and Defense") physical training norms for people in the Soviet Union.
“I want to focus mainly on the military aspect as it is important, but of course, the health of the nation is more important,” Putin, who earned a black belt in judo, said.
Putin stressed that Olympic champions should be recognized in Russia to promote sports. “We need popularization of sports in general, and one of the means of popularization is the glorification of our champions,” he said.
In an effort to make sport popular among Russians, “we need to use all the means of promoting the Olympic achievements and educate people on their examples, and morally support those who start practicing sport and physical culture.”
“We will support you,” Putin said.
One of the most important tasks for Russia is to make sport a fashion trend for people of all ages, the Russian leader said.
“It is vital that this is not obliging and people should seek this themselves and come to an understanding that this is important for each person, for their health, future , including successful professional future,” Putin stressed.
The Association of Students Sports Clubs has opened 49 regional units and 79 student clubs in the past 18 months in the country. New clubs are expected to be created in 120 universities across Russia.
An opinion poll by the state-run All-Russia Public Opinion Research Center revealed in mid-October that more than 50% of Russians are doing sports but only 13% exercise regularly.
The survey said that 21% of the respondents do sports from time to time and 18% exercise on rare occasions. Half of the respondents prefer exercising at home, while 22% practice jogging and others visit gyms and health clubs, the pollster said.
The survey was conducted among 1,600 respondents from 130 cities and towns in 42 Russian regions. The margin of error is less than 3.4%