Almaty Prepares for 28th Winter Universiade

Almaty universiadeALMATY – Construction of an ice dome and ice arena will be finished by August 2016, said Almaty Mayor Ahmetzhan Yessimov during a March 27 meeting on municipal development issues chaired by Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev.

“The city is actively preparing for the 2017 Winter Universiade. This year, we are going to start building an ice dome suitable for 12,000 spectators, an ice arena with 3,000 seats and also an athletic village. The plan is to finish all construction by August 2016. We have also bid to host the 2022 Winter Olympics. I believe that our city, thanks to state’s economic development, has a real chance of holding those games” Yessimov said.

After visiting Almaty in the middle of March, International Olympic Committee (IOC) experts called the city a strong contender to host the 2022 games. Other Olympic contenders are Krakow (Poland), Oslo (Norway), Lvyv (Ukraine) and Beijing (China).

Yessimov believes a successful Universiade 2017 will significantly enhance Almaty’s chances of hosting the 2022 Winter Olympics. He also noted that teams from more than 50 countries, as well as fans, staff and volunteers totaling 5,000 are expected for the event. This is the first time Almaty will host such a significant sporting event. Hence, the Universiade requires a systematic and comprehensive preparation, the mayor said.

In a recent interview with Interfax.kz, Universiade 2017 Executive Director Ilya Urazakov said a 500-person capacity hotel will be built.  After the Universiade, the hotel will become part of a local university.

“Facilities like Baluan Sholak Sport Palace, Sunkar Ski jump, Shymbulak Ski Resort and Medeo High Mountain Ice Rink will be repaired. The games are a high priority. Before hosting the Universiade, several sports competitions are going to be organised in Almaty and one of them is the Second International Student Ice Skating Championship, which will take place in November this year. These ‘test events’, as we call them, will demonstrate our level of preparedness,” explained Urazakov.

Urazakov mentioned 13 sports that will be represented during the Universiade, including ice hockey, skiing, short track, figure skating, snowboarding, biathlon, ski racing and curling.

Urazakov also said that during the opening ceremony, students will perform a famous Universiade anthem called “Gaudeamus,” which means “Let us celebrate.” The composition was chosen for its beautiful organ music that represents the spirit of youth.