June 7 - With less than a month to go before the 2013 Universiade in Kazan gets underway, the Mayor of the city, Ilsur Metshin, has slammed organisers of the Opening Ceremony and firmly warned them to step-up their efforts in order to ensure the success of the Games curtain-raiser at the newly-built Kazan Arena.
According to Russian news agency RIA-Novosti, the Mayor arrived at the Kazan Arena at 7.20am to discuss the installation of the stage with builders, but the stadium was effectively empty, and remained as such when he left 40 minutes later, despite the fact that he had been informed by Opening Ceremony director Igor Sivov that builders were working from 7am until 6pm at the site.
"I'm not buying it," said an incensed Metshin, who insisted that work should be underway well before 9am.
"Don't feed me fairy tales."
The Opening Ceremony for the Universiade will take place on July 6 - just 29 days away - and could see as many as 45,000 people pack the Kazan Arena, which was due to host football at the Games but was not completed in time.
But the Mayor was not finished with his criticism there, as he also took a swipe at the fact that awkward rehearsal times, from 6pm to 11pm, are leaving many of the contributors for the Ceremony unable to find transportation home.
And he left the organisers in no doubt as to how important the Ceremony was for the perceived success or failure of the Games.
"The opening ceremony will contribute to 90 per cent of the success of Universiade," he said.
"It will depend on how the artists will perform.
"Their salaries are pennies - they're dancing for their love of the city."
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