With the Games now less than a year away, the organising committee of Almaty 2017 admit they will have to economise on certain aspects of the Winter Universiade.
The original budget for the 26th edition of the Winter Universiade was 32 billion tenge ($86m/£60m/€79m) but that figure has now been reduced to 17 billion tenge after analysts predicted Kazakhstan will suffer its first negative growth in nearly two decades in 2016.
Kazakhstan's financial troubles stem from the global slump in oil prices, the commodity accounting for around a quarter of the nation's economy.
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"We have to understand that there has been a budget correction, especially in the line of equipment purchase and the opening and closing ceremonies. We decided to choose a more economical format," said Almaty 2017 President Aset Abdualiyev.
While this will certainly raise a few obstacles for Almaty 2017, the building of facilities for the Games continues apace. Last week the Almaty 2017 organising committee confirmed that the three main venues for the 2017 Winter Universiade - the Ice Arena, Ice Palace and Athletes' Village - would be completed this year in time for the celebrations for the 1,000th anniversary of Almaty.
The 3,000-capacity Ice Arena, which will host the ice hockey tournament, will be completed by 22nd March 2016. Landscaping around the site will be completed by 6th July 2016.
Made up of an administrative building, a swimming pool, an ice rink and seating for 12,000 spectators, the Ice Palace – the main venue for the Games – will be ready on 9th May 2016.
The largest purpose-built venue for the Games is comprised of two arenas and – underlining the promise to deliver a lasting legacy to the people of Almaty – also includes halls for boxing, wrestling, table tennis, dance and acrobatics, in addition to two gyms and a medical rehabilitation centre.
Both venues are designed with the possibility of being transformed into a volleyball, basketball or indoor soccer/football pitch. Complete with parking infrastructure, cafes, bars and restaurants, they will also be able to host conferences, forums and exhibitions.
The first four buildings of the Athletes' Village will be completed by 22nd March with four more ready by 9th May and the remaining two rolled out by 6th July. Landscaping will be carried out in August ahead of Almaty's millennial anniversary.
Although the financing of the games had been guaranteed despite the budget cuts, the organising committee is actively searching for sponsors, both national and international, including public-private partnerships.
"In general we notice a very good synergy regarding the inclusion of sponsors. Many business companies, both local and foreign, are interested to be associated with the Universiade brand. We see a good, strong interest. Therefore, we will further develop the public-private partnerships format," Abdualiyev said.
More than 2,000 athletes from 55 countries are expected to take part in the 26th edition of the Universiade, which takes place from 28th January 2017 to 8th February 2017.
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