Colorful Ceremony Opens World University Games

The 22nd World University Games raised its curtain on Thursday with a ceremony highlighted by spectacular fireworks, impressive choreographed and technology-backed images and sounds.

South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun declared open the 11-day Olympic-style event in the city recognized for its cultural and educational traditions.

Under the theme of "Dream for Unity", a record 7,000-plus athletes from over 170 countries and regions will vie for 185 gold medals in 12 sports at the Universiade which runs through August 31.

South Korean and DPR Korean athletes marched together into the Daegu World Cup Stadium under the Korean Peninsula Flag, symbolizing a unified Korea at the event.

They are welcomed by the audience in a warm standing ovation, with South Korean men's volleyball player Choi Tae-woong and DPR Korean female fencer Kim Hye-yeong jointly bearing the flag.

Daegu Mayor Cho Hae-nyoung, also President of the Organizing Committee, said the 22nd Universiade will be a culture-oriented one in the speech.

"Daegu, as a part of the global village, is about to share its cultural diversity with the world youth, while maintaining its uniqueness on the one hand, and enjoy creating a culture in which all human races coexist in harmony on the other," said Cho.

"Now, we are to declare the advent of an era with a new paradigm which teaches us to humbly respect the course of Mother Nature through reflections on the trials and errors of the past centuries sacrificing nature for technology's sake.

"In that respect, this year's Universiade is to be transformed into an eco-friendly green cultural festival that manifests our aspirations to live in harmony with nature, making the best use oftoday's technology for nature's sake," he added.

George E. Killian, President of the International University Sports Federation (FISU), spoke highly of the organizers' work and the sports facilities for the Games.

"Daegu City and its 2.5 million citizens have been making their utmost efforts for the past three years to insure you, the university student athletes from around the world, can have the sporting experience of your lifetime. The stadium is new and other25 sports facilities that you will be using have all been renovated so that you are all able to perform at your peak," said the 79-year-old American.

The opening ceremony began with thousands of college students rushing to a "Fountain of Light" shaped like a triangle and arrow during a 30-minute event at the Universiade Main Stadium.

South Korean girls in ethnic attire then ushered in the participating delegations.

The crowd of about 60,000 spectators maintained its enthusiasm throughout the parade of athletes, waving their fans to the rhythm of music.

The symbolic torch was carried into the darkened stadium by Jung Sung-sook, the gold medalist of women's 61kg judo at the 1994Asian Games, who handed it off to Barcelona Olympic marathon champion Hwang Young-jo, before it ended in the hands of Lee Jin-taek.

The Busan Asian Games high-jump champion used it to light the cauldron after being lifted into the sky on a flying platform.

Three individual flames were united at Homigot in Pohang, North Kyongsang Province, on August 17.

The first began its journey on July 19 from Turin, Italy, the host of the first Universiade, while the main torch for this year's event was lit on August 10 in Seoul.

The final flame, the New Millennium Eternal Fire, was set alight to celebrate New Year's Day in 2000 and has continued to burn at Homigot since then.

The competition will be in full swing Friday when three gold medals are up for grabs in fencing and taekwondo.



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