By Duncan Mackay

Vladimir Putin opens Kazan 2013July 6 - Russian President Vladimir Putin tonight officially opened the 2013 Summer Universaide in Kazan at a spectacular Ceremony before a capacity crowd of 45,000. 

During the Opening Ceremony, in the newly built Kazan Arena, Putin claimed that the Universiade could be compared only to the Olympic Games. 

"On behalf of a hospitable Russia I welcome you to the Universiade in Kazan," he told the crowd and competitors.

"Gathered here today are the successful, young athletes.

"We have made every effort for the participants of this sports festival to be able to show good results.

"I wish you to overcome yourselves and turn in personal bests.

"Let the seconds of struggle and triumph be vivid and memorable, and let them stay for the rest of your lives."

Kazan 2013 Opening CeremonyFireworks and a dazzling light display helped make the Opening Ceremony of Kazan 2013 a spectacular event before a capacity crowd of 45,000 in the newly-built Kazan Arena

Before and after the athletes' parade, there was an Olympic-style art performance, a brilliant combination of dazzling light, music, dance and fireworks.

The Ceremony reached the climax with an intricate cauldron lighting, which saw four Russian athletes with each holding a torch, including two-time Olympic volleyball silver medallist Yekaterina Gamova, light up the cauldron together.

The biggest sporting event held in Russia since the 1980 Olympics in Moscow, the Summer Universiade has attracted more than 10,000 student athletes from 162 countries and regions, who will vie for 351 gold medals in 27 sports.

The Summer Games, that are due to run through to July 17 in the capital of Russian Republic of Tatarstan, are seen as a "test ground" for Russia's readiness for big games.

Russia will host the 2014 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games in Sochi and the FIFA World Cup in 2018.

The Games have a $4.5 billion (£2.8 billion/€3.3billion) price tag as 30 out of the 64 venues were built for the event.

Of the total cost, around $435 million ($292 million/€339 million) was allocated to the construction of the Universiade village, which will afterwards become Russia's largest student accommodation complex.

Many of the other venues will be widely used in the future during major sporting events like the 2015 World Swimming Championship and the 2018 World Cup.

Kazan 2013 opening ceremony FISU PresidentRussian President Vladimir Putin (left) listens to FISU President Claud-Louis Galliien (right) during the Opening Ceremony of Kazan 2013 Summer Universiade

More than 100,000 fans from all over the world are expected to visit Kazan during the Games, with tickets already sold out for most of the events.

Security measures have been tightened within the Universiade home city with 24,000 Interior Ministry servicemen are deployed to Kazan.

Concerns were heightened after Islamist insurgent Doku Umarov earlier this week called for jihadists to stage attacks on a range of targets, including the Olympics and the Universiade, which Umarov referred to as "pagan events on the lands of Muslims that ignore our Islamic values and laws."

It is the second time the Universiade has been held on Russian soil after Moscow hosted the Summer World Student Games back in 1973.

First held in Turin in 1959, this year's event will be the 27th World University Games. Participants must be between 17 and 28 and studying for a degree or diploma, or have graduated within the past year.

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