FISU secretary general admits time could be an issue but remains confident Almaty 2017 will be a great event ©FISU

A near 50 per cent reduction in the budget for next year's Winter Universiade in Almaty has raised concern about completing construction at competition venues on time for the event as it has forced tender processes to be delayed, International University Sports Federation (FISU) secretary general Eric Saintrond admitted here today.

A decision was taken in January to slash costs surrounding the 2017 Winter Universiade from 32 billion tenge (£66 million/$94 million/€83 million) to 17 billion tenge (£35 million/$50 million/€44 million) due to fears over Kazkahstan’s economy.

Economy analysts at the turn of the year predicted the country will suffer its first negative growth in nearly two decades in 2016.

Almaty 2017 had remained confident preparations would be unaffected, despite the cutbacks, and promised venues would be finished by August 30, prior to their opening next year as part of Almaty’s millennial anniversary.

Organising Committee President Aset Abdualiyev admitted they had no choice but to economise, while the city’s Mayor Bauyrzhan Baibek stressed that none of the work on the venues would be suspended.

“Almaty is a question of time,” Saintrond said at the SportAccord Convention here.

“Some activities are a bit late - it is not a question of money but it is a question of the first budget of Almaty being too high.

“The value of the Kazakh currency fell down dramatically and of course that creates problems.

“We discussed a budget reduction of 50 per cent with organisers to help them and we contribute by trying to reduce it.

“We can organise decent, very good Games by using existing venues and improving the quality and not spending too much money.

“Unfortunately due to the reduction in budget they had to delay the tender of some activities but FISU again will help.”

Venue readiness has been hampered by a slash in the Almaty 2017 budget
Venue readiness has been hampered by a slash in the Almaty 2017 budget ©Almaty 2017

Russian Oleg Matytsin, elected FISU President after beating French incumbent Claude-Louis Gallien at the body’s General Assembly in Lausanne in November, said they were working closely with organisers and are in regular discussions with those involved in the process.

“I believe we will be on time,” he said.

More than 2,000 athletes from 55 countries are expected to take part in the 26th edition of the Universiade, due to take place from January 28 to February 8.

Work on the main arena and the administrative building, which will host ice hockey, and the improvement of public services at the venue, has been scheduled to draw to a close on July 6.

The Ice Palace, which will a capacity of 12,000, has already had its administrative building, basin area and warm-up skating rink completed.

Construction is expected to be completely finished on May 9, with the venue due to stage both the Opening and Closing Ceremonies, as well as skating.