Almaty is braced to host 28th Winter Universiade ©Almaty 2017

The 28th edition of the Winter Universiade is due to begin here tomorrow with approximately 2,000 athletes from around 58 countries competing for medals.

The 12-day event, held under the auspices of the International University Sports Federation (FISU), will see 85 sets of medals awarded in 12 sports.

Featuring on the programme are Alpine skiing, biathlon, cross-country skiing, curling, figure skating, freestyle skiing, ice hockey, Nordic combined, short track, ski jumping, snowboard and speed skating.

FISU announced Almaty as the city to host the biennial event in November 2011, meaning Kazakhstan is the first among Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) countries to stage the Winter Universiade.

"The 28th Winter Universiade is one of the greatest world sporting events and the largest sport project in the history of an independent Kazakhstan," Nail Nurov, general director of the Almaty 2017 Organising Committee, said.

"Symbolically, the Winter Universiade 2017 is being held in Almaty - the city is actually considered to be a sport capital of the country as well as a youth and student centre of Kazakhstan.

"Young people and students are the future of every country, the most advanced and dynamic part of every society that forms tomorrow’s agenda.

"I’m convinced the Winter Universiade 2017 will give a powerful impact to develop and promote winter sport types in our country."

The Opening Ceremony of the 2017 Winter Universiade is scheduled to take place in Almaty's Ice Palace ©Almaty 2017
The Opening Ceremony of the 2017 Winter Universiade is scheduled to take place in Almaty's Ice Palace ©Almaty 2017

Ice hockey is the only sport on the schedule for the first two days, with the Opening Ceremony set to take place on Sunday (January 29) at the 12,000-capacity Ice Palace.

More than 3,000 volunteers, including foreigners and representatives of Kazakhstan's 14 regions, will be involved in Almaty 2017 activities, while over 30,000 international tourists and guests are expected to attend the festivities.

A total of 127 international technical officials and about 600 national technical delegates will also be engaged with the event.

Kazakhstan has been participating in the Universiade, which also has a biennial Summer version, since 1993 following its independence from the Soviet Union. 

More than 700 athletes have taken part, with 125 medals - 35 golds, 39 silvers and 51 bronzes - having been won to date.

Organisers are hopeful the Winter Universiade will boost Kazakhstan’s prospects of hosting future large scale events.

Almaty was unsuccessful in its bid to host the 2022 Winter Olympics and Paralympics, losing out to Chinese capital Beijing by 44 votes to 40 at the International Olympic Committee's Session in Kuala Lumpur in July 2015.