Kazakhstan 2016 | TOURISM & RETAIL | FOCUS: UNIVERSIADE 2017

The Winter Universiade will be broadcast by more than 100 TV channels around the world. The event will attract a number of international visitors, boosting Almaty's reputation as a tourist destination and initiating the renovation and construction of infrastructure, hotels, and ski resorts.

The Winter Universiade is the largest global winter multi-sports event for student athletes in the world. As an international sporting festival, second only to the Winter Olympics, the Winter Universiade is organized on biyearly basis. The prestigious sporting event will span 11 days, and events will consist of six compulsory sports in eight compulsory disciplines, and up to three optional sports chosen by the host country. Embracing the International University Sports Federation's motto of “Excellence in Mind and Body,” the Winter Universiade incorporates cultural and educational aspects into 11 days of sports competitions, allowing young athletes from all over the world to enjoy a true spirit of friendship and sportsmanship.

The upcoming Winter Universiade will be held in Almaty between January 29 and February 8, 2017. It will be the first time that a former Soviet Republic will host the Winter Universiade (Russia hosted the Summer Universiade twice—in Moscow in 1973 and in Kazan in 2013, and will host the Winter Universiade in three years at Krasnoyarsk). The Winter Universiade 2017 in Almaty will host some 3,500 sportsmen between the ages of 17 and 28 from all around the world. Almaty looks forward to establishing a new record of number of participants. Recently, the Winter Universiade gathered a record number of 2,668 participants when it was hosted in Trentino, Italy in 2013; and while the previous record for number of countries was set at Erzurum, Turkey in 2011 with 52 countries, Almaty is on course to set the record even higher, with 64 countries already signed up to participate.

Though the initial budget for the event was close to $94 million, the global drop in oil and commodity prices affected the Kazakh economy, prompting organizers to cut the budget of the games by nearly half, to $50 million, the International University Sports Federation announced. Officials say despite the cuts, facilities and infrastructure will be finished by the time athletes start arriving in January 2017. Many sport and non-sport venues will be built in Almaty for the event, including an Ice Palace, two ice rinks, an Athletic Village, and an international airport terminal. Most of the facilities needed to host the event were previously built to house the Seventh Asian Winter Games, part of the competition, which took place in Almaty in 2011. Nevertheless, hosting the 2017 Winter Universiade will have a positive impact on the country's largest city and its inhabitants. The event will foster a new wave of future leaders for the city and the world and will inspire new achievements aiming at sustainable development. The Universiade will also give a further boost to the city's infrastructure, as the event requires not only new sports facilities but also the construction of new roads and the improvement of Almaty's public transportation system. Nearly 500 transport vehicles dedicated to guests will be used for the event.

The event is poised to encourage the local population to live a healthier lifestyle, as well as educate a multitude of people through training programs for sports reporters, doctors, and event managers. However, this is nothing new for the residents of Almaty; the city, of which one third of the population is 30 years or younger, hosts the highest number of sporting events and healthy lifestyle campaigns, with some 250 events occurring annually. The Winter Universiade is set to be broadcasted by more than 100 TV channels around the World and is anticipated to attract a crowd of 30,000 to the city, as well as act as an intensive for developing tourist infrastructure, such as hotels and ski resorts, are likely to put the city on the tourist map and attract new visitors even post to the event. The 2017 games will mark the first year that a CIS country has ever hosted the prestigious youth sporting event.