By David Gold

russia celebrates_international_olympic_day_27-06-12111June 26 - Russia has celebrated International Olympic Day, with Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium, built for the 1980 Summer Olympics, at the heart of the festivities.

The Stadium, which is being upgraded to host games for the Russia 2018 FIFA World Cup, including the final, was set up with a dedicated sports village comprising 35 different venues, allowing guests to play basketball, volleyball, football, try out the climbing wall, shoot a bow, trampoline or even chess, at which Russia traditionally excels.

International Olympic Day is the anniversary of the founding of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) by Baron Pierre de Coubertin on June 23 1896 and this year it was dedicated to the upcoming Summer Olympics and Paralympics in London, which begin in a month's time.

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International Olympic Day has been officially celebrated since 1987, and in Russia it is particularly pertinent as the country gets ready to host the next Games after London 2012, with the Black Sea resort of Sochi holding the next Winter Olympics and Paralympics in 2014.

Spreading the ideals and values of the Olympic Movement, the day, which involved celebrations featuring sport, education and cultural events, took place in Moscow, Sochi and across other regions in Russia.

Youngsters taking part in Sochi's events were entertained by a children's animation team.

The event, organised by the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) in connection with the Moscow Government, also featured a unique football game between Winter Olympic and Summer Olympic champions.

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Although it is the host of the next Winter Games, Sochi is Russia's only sub-tropical city and its festivities included beach football, volleyball and street ball competitions.

Master classes in bench pressing, arm wrestling and athletics were also on offer from Andrey Chemerkin, Russia's Atlanta 1996 weightlifting champion, while an Olympic quiz, roller skate relay, tug-of-war and other activities were available for those wanting to take part across the country.

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