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02 March 2019 | in Winter FISU World University Games

Krasnoyarsk 2019 Winter Universiade declared open by Russian President Vladimir Putin

The city of Krasnoyarsk, the region of Siberia and in fact, all of the Russian Federation put their collective might into ensuring the Opening Ceremony of the 29thedition of the Winter Universiade set the bar high – so high that there was also a message for the athletes from outer space.


KRASNOYARSK, RUSSIAN FEDERATION – As the 29th Winter Universiade was officially declared open at 20:19 on 2 March, the city of Krasnoyarsk in the heart of Siberia welcomed the world into a white, winter fairy tale. The temperatures outside may not have been as low as the host city expected, but inside the Platinum Ice Arena everything glimmered like a precious snowflake. In a theatrical production that was artistic, whimsical and grand at the same time, the spectators were taken on a journey from real winter to ancient shamans, tracing the rich culture and history of the region.  


President of Russia Vladimir Putin declared the 29th Winter Universiade Krasnoyarsk 2019 officially open by welcoming everyone to Russia.


“Today, the international festival of university sport, a festival of youth and friendship, determined and honest competing has come to Krasnoyarsk, to the banks of our great Siberian river Yenisei,” he said. “Thousands of athletes from dozens of countries will showcase their prowess, power, speed, stamina and, of course, their will to win, along with a strong character and respect for their opponents. I am confident that each of you will remember these days for the rest of your lives, that they will give you only the most joyful impressions and will become a bright chapter in the history of international sport.”


“I congratulate everyone on the start of the competitions and wish you success, convincing, remarkable and spectacular victories.” He then said, “I declare the XXIX Winter Universiade open.”


FISU President Oleg Matytsin said, “On behalf of the International University Sports Federation, it is my great honour to welcome you to the grand opening of the 29th Winter Universiade Krasnoyarsk 2019. It is the biggest sports event this year which starts a new chapter in the chronicles of the international university sports movement. For the first time in FISU's 70-year history the Winter Universiade comes to Russia and is placed at par with other global sports events successfully organised in the country.”


That it was at par with the biggest spectacles was evident with the grand ceremony which brought more than 1,000 artists together on stage to showcase the authentic culture and everyday life of the people that live along the Yenisei River. One after another, scenes depicted the heritage of Siberia and the achievements of those who live here. Shamans danced to ethnic music, starlit reindeer floated high above and gigantic tea cups symbolized Russian hospitality.



The poignant parade of 58 nations highlighted the very spirit of sportsmanship that both, President Putin and Oleg Matytsin spoke of. While a lone athlete from Afghanistan opened the parade, the host nation closed it with a massive contingent of 293 athletes. Uniformed guards accepted the flags from the delegations, even as the Chinese delegation made the loudest noise and cheered for the five athletes from Hong Kong, China. 


There was also an inspiring video message for the participating athletes from International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach. “Who knows? The Krasnoyarsk Winter Universiade might just set you on your path to the Winter Olympics in 2022,” he said. There was also a message from outer space by cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko, from the International Space Station, who spoke of unity and friendship and planet Earth being our collective home.


After the show, Universiade Ambassadors, two-time Olympic champion gymnast Svetlana Khorkina and 10-time world Bandy champion Sergei Lomanov Jr lit the City Cauldron of the Universiade. A burning Bandy ball was struck by Lomanov into the Yenisei, and the river then metaphorically transmitted its energy to the Cauldron. It was a befittingly dramatic end to a spellbinding show. And then, it was time for the games to begin! 


A legend of another ice sport - bandy - lit the Universiade Cauldron to conclude the fastivities of the event's opening ceremonies