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KAZAN, July 6 (Itar-Tass) - President Vladimir Putin wished success to the Russian athletes at the Summer Universiade that started in Kazan, the capital of Tatarstan, on Saturday, July 6.
Putin met with more than 20 young athletes at Kazan Arena Stadium just before the opening ceremony started.
“Shall we win?” he asked them and was assured by the athletes that they would do their best for that. “We expect you only to win,” the president added.
Putin posed with the athletes for a photograph and then went to the stands to take part in the opening ceremony.
The ceremony will continue for about four hours. Each visitor has been insured by the insurance company Sogaz and got a gift package consisting of a tulip-shaped hand fan, three flashlights, a bell with the Universiade emblem, and 3D glasses. Each item has a role to play in the show and makes the visitors a part of the action.
Earlier in the day, shortly after arrival in Tatarstan, Putin took a tour of the renovated airport and then took an express train to the city. During the 20-minute trip, Tatarstan President Rustam Minnikhanov and First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov told him about the preparation of the Universiade.
“It’s good when new cities are built and old ones come back to life,” he said.
“The city has changed enormously and we have done much for that,” Minnikhanov said, adding that almost 60,000 trees, 6 million flowers and 20,000 bushes had been planted.
Twenty thousand volunteers will be working at the Universiade, including 5,000 from outside the republic.
The Universiade will continue until July 17. More than 10,000 athletes from 175 countries will compete in 27 sports for 315 sets of medals.
The decision to hold the Universiade in Kazan was made by the International University Sport Federation (FISU) on May 31, 2008. Since then dozens of facilities were built in Kazan, including almost 30 sport ones, and 11 new road intersections, dozens of kilometers of roads were repaired, the city’s airport and railway station were renovated, and the Universiade Village was built.