KAZAN, Russia, July 6 (R-Sport) – With the 2013 Universiade in Kazan not yet underway, Russian Olympic Committee president Alexander Zhukov was already heralding the event Saturday as a sign that the city is a contender to host the Olympic Games.
“In the future Kazan may make an application for the Games,” said Zhukov, adding that the city will also look to host upcoming world championships in athletics, hockey and volleyball. “Kazan is ready to host big events."
Zhukov said that the Universiade was a “prototype” for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, which are being cast as a sign of Russia’s economic and political maturity on the global stage.
“In terms of building modern sports facilities and the number of athletes taking part in the competition, they’re very similar,” said Zhukov, drawing a comparison between the Olympics and the Universiade. “As for the Universiade’s opening and closing ceremonies, it’s all very much like the Olympics.”
Kazan is a multiethnic city with a large Muslim population located on the banks of the Volga River some 720 kilometers (447 miles) from Moscow. President Vladimir Putin will attend the Universiade’s opening ceremonies at the Kazan Arena on Saturday night.
On Friday, International University Sports Federation president Claude-Louis Gallien said early cost estimates for the Kazan event put the overall price tag at $4.5 billion, making them the second-most expensive in the biennial Universiade’s 54-year history, but behind the $30 billion spent on the event in Shenzhen, China, in 2011.
By comparison, Russia is expected to spend about $51 billion on preparations for the Sochi Olympics, making it the most expensive Games of all time.
It remains unclear when Kazan, Russia’s eighth-largest city, would put forward an Olympics bid. A host for the 2020 Summer Games will be selected later this year from between Tokyo, Istanbul and Madrid. Bidding for the 2024 Games opens in 2015; 2028 bidding starts in 2019.
The city will also play host to the 2015 world aquatics championships and some matches during the 2018 football World Cup.