Central Olympic Academy of Russia


Country Russia
Name of AcademyCentral Olympic Academy of Russia (COA)
Центральная олимпийская академия
Name of PresidentProf. Dr. Nataliya MELNIKOVA
Contact PersonAlexandra NIKIFOROVA (Director)
Foundation date1991
Year of accession to EOA2018 (founding member)
Social media linksN/A

Meet our members – An interview series by the EOA

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The Central Olympic Academy (COA) acts as an independent, non-profit organisation with the task of promoting the Olympic idea in Russia. We paid a pleasant virtual visit to their President, Prof. Dr. Nataliya Melnikova. The President greets us from the office of the COA which is situated in the Russian State University of Physical Education, Sport, Youth and Tourism, the largest sports university in the country, which lies in the eastern part of Moscow, a bit outside of the bustling downtown.

The addition “Central” in the name foreshadows the presence of several NOAs in Russia. In fact, there are 12 regional National Olympic Academies in the country, making it more efficient and convenient to operate activities in their respective areas. Each regional NOA is usually affiliated with a prominent sports university, the majority of which were founded during the Soviet era. Since its foundation in 1992, however, the Central Olympic Academy does not serve as an umbrella organisation but operates on the same level as the regional NOAs, except that it focuses on the national level.

The Executive Committee, consisting of nominated members from the Olympic field, is the decisive body. The President (Nataliya Melnikova), Vice-President (Vitaly Melnikov), Executive Director (Alexandra Nikiforova), General Secretary (Alexei Treskin) and the Director of Educational Projects (Nadezhda Leontieva) take care of the day-to-day business. All these roles are honorary; the main occupation of the individuals in most cases is in the associated university.

Nataliya Melnikova describes the organisation’s relationship with the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC). The COA is a member of the ROC and they maintain close contact through the ROC’s Department of Olympic Educational Programs, which functions as the liaison body to the various NOAs. In the current case, the COA President is the head of the ROC Olympic Education Commission. The COA receives the bulk of its funding through the NOC, which includes the costs for events and travel.

In the context of Olympic Education, the COA prepares programmes and materials for Russian general schools, professional schools and institutions of higher education. However, due to the division of tasks with the regional NOAs, the COA’s focus rests on the academic side. Worth mentioning in this context are the Annual Olympic Session for Young Researchers, a platform for young talents, the “Olympic Bulletin”, an annual collection of multi-disciplinary research papers and the development of the two Masters programmes “Sports Diplomacy” and “International Sports and Olympic Movement”. The COA representatives regularly take part in the International Olympic Academy activities and give lectures at the Russian International Olympic University. The COA is also responsible for the educational part of the annual International Forum for Young Olympians organized by the ROC.

The last part of our exciting conversation concerns the international integration of the COA. Nataliya Melnikova emphasised the beneficial cooperation of the NOAs of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), i.e. the former Soviet states, as well as the Baltic NOAs, which are holding joint Olympic seminars. Existing agreements with the NOAs of the neighbouring Asian countries such as Mongolia, China, but also with Hong Kong, Taiwan and the Republic of Korea, conclude the entangled international network around the COA.

Projects of the Academy

Olympic Session for Students and Young Researchers “Olympism, Olympic Movement, Olympic Games: History and Modernity” is the largest annual national scientific conference on Olympic issues for young researchers under the age of 35. It is organized by the Central Olympic Academy (COA) together with the Russian Olympic Committee and the Russian State University of Physical Education, Sport, Youth and Tourism. Representatives of the regional Olympic academies of Russia, regional sports universities and colleges as well as other young researchers from all over Russia take part in the Session. Session also serves for the selection of Russian representatives for the IOA Young Participants Session in Olympia.

COA annually publishes the collection of scientific articles on the issues of the modern Olympic movement called “The Olympic Bulletin”. Articles are collected from researchers working on these issues at the regional Olympic Academies and sports universities. Articles are published in Russian with English abstracts. Three years ago a separate section for the English articles was introduced. “The Olympic Bulletin” is registered in the Russian Science Citation Index (a bibliographic database of scientific publications in Russian).

COA was one of the developers of educational programs concerning sports diplomacy, its connection to the Olympic movement and its educational potential. These were the two masters programs called “Sports Diplomacy” developed with assistance from the COA. The first one is a joint program between the Russian State University of Physical Education, Sport and Tourism and Moscow State Institute of International Relations which is the leading institution in the field of diplomacy. This program is focused more on the aspect of international relations. The other one is carried out solely by the Russian State University of Physical Education, Sport and Tourism and is focused more on the aspects of the international sport and the Olympic movement. The acquired knowledge, skills and abilities allow graduates of the master’s programs to work in government institutions of the Russian Federation related to both foreign policymaking and sports and also in non-governmental organizations (sports federations, NOC etc.).

COA together with the Russian Olympic University in Sochi regularly organizes training programs for teachers, educators and sports officials on subjects such as Olympic Education, issues of the modern Olympic movement, sports diplomacy and others. COA took an active part in the organization of the International Young Olympians Forum that took place in Moscow on June 1, 2019. COA staff developed the content for an educational program on the Olympic Games and Olympic movement, Youth Olympic Games, Olympic values and principles and Olympic education. At the forum, COA representatives were lecturers at the educational stations and presented the information to the participants.

History of the Academy

The Central Olympic Academy of Russia was founded in 1991 based on the former Soviet Olympic Academy after the dissolution of the USSR. Central Olympic Academy functions at the Russian State University of Physical Education, Sport, Youth and Tourism in Moscow. The University’s rector at the time Professor Valery Kuzin was also the President of the Academy in the 1990s. From 2005 till the present day the Central Olympic Academy is headed by Professor Nataliya Melnikova. The activities of the Central Olympic Academy are carried out according to the annual plan of the regional Olympic academies activities approved by the Russian Olympic Committee. Central Olympic Academy does not only coordinate and maintain close ties with Russian regional Olympic academies but also established cooperation with national Olympic academies of other countries. In 2018 Central Olympic Academy as a representative of the Russian Federation became one of the co-founders of the European Olympic Academies.

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