MOSCOW, June 7 (R-Sport) – The mayor of the Russian city of Kazan on Friday sharply criticized preparations for the World University Games opening ceremony at Kazan Arena, and demanded that work at the centerpiece venue get organized with the games less than one month away.
The mayor, Ilsur Metshin, said the stadium was empty when he visited one recent morning at 7:20 a.m. The place was still quiet, he said, when he left 40 minutes later after wandering the locker rooms, hoping to discuss the stage installation with builders. Opening ceremony director Igor Sivov previously told the mayor workers were on site from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. to get ready for the July 6 show.
“I’m not buying it. Don’t feed me fairy tales,” Metshin shot back on Friday, adding that work should begin well before 9 a.m.
The so-called Universiade, which runs from July 6-17, is Russia’s first major international sporting event before the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics next February and the FIFA World Cup in 2018. Indeed, the games will undoubtedly be watched closely as Russia looks to showcase its ability to stage a global sporting event.
Metshin also lambasted opening ceremony organizers for holding rehearsals between 6 p.m. and 11 p.m., making it difficult for many of the roughly 3,500 performers to find late-night public transportation home. He insisted rehearsals begin no later than 5 p.m.
“The opening ceremony will contribute to 90 percent of the success of Universiade,” he said. “It will depend on how the artists will perform. Their salaries are pennies – they’re dancing for their love of the city.”
Kazan Arena, the largest football stadium in the Volga Region, is expected to draw about 45,000 spectators for the ceremony.