An Opening Ceremony at Finland's Joensuu Market Square has got the International Biathlon Union (IBU) World Championships underway ahead of the start of competitive action tomorrow.
Some 5,000 spectators watched on as the competing teams took part in a parade, while Finland's Prime Minister Alexander Stubb delivered an opening speech to wish everybody a great Championships.
He said he had been testing out the racetracks in Kontiolahti earlier in the day.
Anders Besseberg, President of the IBU, also gave a speech and there were dance, music and video shows to celebrate the event, which are due to run until March 15.
Among the athletes expected to compete in the Championships are Belarusian Olympic champion Darya Domracheva, home star Kaisa Mäkäräinen and Czech World Championships medallist Veronika Vítková, who are expected to secure podium finishes in the women's event.
Ukrainian European champion Serhiy Semenov, Michal Šlesingr of the Czech Republic, French Sochi 2014 gold medallist Martin Fourcade and Norwegian world champion Emil Hegle Svendsen are favourites in the men's competition, meanwhile.
"My goal is to perform well in general," Fourcade said.
"Surely I want medals as well.
"I also want to keep my first place in the World Cup ranking."
But he admitted anyone could win gold, with there being so many outstanding performers in the field this year.
The mixed relay opens the action tomorrow, with Norway as the favourites for the title.
They will, however, have to battle through stiff competition from the likes of France, Germany, Ukraine and the Czech Republic.
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February 2015: Domracheva surges to top of IBU World Cup overall leaderboard with victory in Oslo
February 2015: Fourcade and Mäkäräinen shoot clean to take IBU World Cup wins