Summer Universiade - Putin opens 2013 Games in Kazan

President Vladimir Putin opened the 2013 Summer Universiade before a full house at the Kazan Arena in Russia.  

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Summer Universiade - Putin opens 2013 Games in Kazan
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Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers a speech as he takes part in the ceremony opening of the Summer Universiade at the Kazan Arena Stadium in Kazan, July 6, 2013. Picture taken July 6, 2013. REUTERS

In front of a 45,000 crowd at the newly-built facility, Putin told fans and officials that the student games were second only to the Olympics.

"On behalf of a hospitable Russia I welcome you to the Universiade in Kazan," he said. "Gathered here today are successful young athletes. 

"We have made every effort for the participants of this sports festival to be able to show good results.

"I wish you to overcome yourselves and turn in personal bests. 

"Let the seconds of struggle and triumph be vivid and memorable, and let them stay for the rest of your lives."

The sold-out stadium was treated to a breathtaking visual display on a 360-degree projection screen which was carried by four supporting 60m-high arches, weighing each more than 500 tons.

After the warm-up by the master of ceremonies, the diverse peoples of Russia paraded around the stadium. Spectators watched a theatrical presentation that featured the living myths and legends of more than 180 ethnic groups living in Russia with ‘Chelovjek’ (Russian for man) as its main character.

A time machine took spectators back to the beginnings of Kazan’s millennial history, as the show attempted to portray Kazan as a dynamic city and one which values tolerance, religious pluralism and respect for ancestors.

The show was blended with the traditions of FISU - the marching of the delegations, the hoisting of the FISU flag with the anthem ‘Gaudeamous Igitur’ playing in the background and the athletes’ and officials’ oathes.

At the end of the spectacle, the Universiade flame was ignited in an Olympic-style cauldron on top of the arches of the construction holding the giant projection screen, with four Russian athletes sparking the flame in unison.

The Summer Universiade is the biggest sporting event held in Russia since the 1980 Olympics, with 10,000 student athletes from around the world competing in Kazan.

Russia will also host the 2014 Winter Olympics and Paralympics in Sochi, and the 2018 World Cup (football).

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