Russian President Vladimir Putin announced he will use leftover funds from the Sochi Winter Olympics to relaunch a Soviet-era fitness regimen for Russian citizens.
Reuters reported that the Ready for Labor and Defense plan — abbreviated in Russia as GTO — was introduced in the 1930s by Joseph Stalin. Vladimir Putin said Monday that bringing this program back would “pay homage to our national historical traditions.”
It is Putin’s plan that the money set aside for the Winter Games, which wrapped up last month, now be used for sporting venues and to promote fitness starting at age 6. The Sochi Games cost Russia $50 billion to host.
Putin first pitched the revival idea last year, saying such a program would teach people “to stand up for themselves, their family and, in the final run, the Fatherland.”
It is unclear how closely Putin’s plan will follow the old GTO, but a paper published by Victor Zilberman in the McGill University Journal of Education in 1982 explained that the GTO “[encourages] sport in the everyday life of the Soviet people, to enhance military preparedness, to teach civic [defense] and to improve personal hygiene.”
Putin’s announcement comes during a period of extreme international isolation amid Russia’s annexation of Crimea and the greatest rift between the U.S. and Russia since the Cold War.
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