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    VLADIMIR PUTIN OFFERS ATHLETES HELP IN PREPARING FOR OLYMPIC GAMES

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    MOSCOW, March 10, 2004. (RIA Novosti) - Vladimir Putin has offered athletes help of the Russian President and the government in preparing for the Olympic Games.

    At the meeting with Olympians the Russian leader pointed out that the Olympic Games would start in five months, but there was a lot of heavy and intensive work ahead. He suggested discussing the progress of preparing for the Games.

    "If there are ideas, problems or recommendations how the government and the President can help, I would ask you to name them," Putin said addressing the sportsmen.

    "We are now witnessing not only an increased public attention to sports. The administrative level has also shifted towards increased interest in sports," he said.

    "The recent sports events - 9 out of 11 possible gold medals, which our boxers won, the successes of track and field athletes and gymnasts, make us optimistic," the President pointed out.

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