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16th FINA World Championships

July 24 - August 9, 2015
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Fina - FEDERATION INTERNATIONALE DENATATION

Mikhail Zotov: The FINA Water World Park will be a state of its own

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08.07.2015, 19:14 Interviews
Deputy Director General of the Executive Directorate for Sports Projects, Mikhail Zotov, gave an interview to the Press Office of the Kazan 2015 Organising Committee in which he explained why Comedy Club Russia’s residents readily responded to the OC’s proposal to give a show in Kazan.

The FINA Water World Park will be a state of its own

- Is it correct to say that the FINA Water World Park will be the key cultural venue for the World Championships?

- Yes, of course. It is at the FINA Water World Park that the heart of our event will be located.  It’s no secret that it will be situated in a cluster between the Kazan Arena Stadium, the Aquatics Palace and the Water Polo Arena. This site was chosen for a good reason as we’ve deliberately laid the park in a place that will be within the same distance of all major venues and spectators will not need to take tiresome travels. Unlike the Universiade, where we couldn’t afford such a luxury because there were 30 venues, we decided to take this step because there are just four venues at the FINA World Championships.

The park will be this so-called ‘buffer area’ where spectators can spend some time before, between and after the competitions. They will work from midday to 10 o’clock in the evening. For example, after the water polo morning sessions end, you have a couple of hours before the synchro swimming event. So, instead of going somewhere else, you simply go to the park where you can enjoy themselves. Admission is free. The FINA Water World Park will offer at least 40 eating places. The park’s programme features the presentation of the Tubatay fast food network. Although, it seems to me that the word ‘fast food’ is not a proper word for naming the national cuisine.

- Will there be any children areas where parents leave their kids to take a walk around the park?

- There will be an entertainment programme. A separate children’s playground with rides, swings, tennis tables for teens. I think that children will have a lot of fun. The park is a huge 40-hectare territory that is able to accommodate 120,000 people. But parents will certainly love this place. It is planned that two new car models will be presented by our partner company AVTOVAZ. So basically the park will be presentation-oriented, and each of our partners has something in store to impress visitors. Here dancers and singers from all parts of Russia will perform; we are currently receiving their entries for participation. Our main task is to launch on a daily basis new programmes and projects that are will be aimed at making visitors happy. It’s a huge and flamboyant fair that will run non-stop for 24 days. It will also have a live site where the Opening and Closing Ceremonies will be broadcast. It’s quite possible that broadcasts will be shown on the Kazan Arena Stadium’s media façade. We are currently working on it.

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The FINA Water World Park located between three venues is Tatarstan’s know how

- Whose experience did you draw upon when you decided that the FINA Water World Park must be located in the centre of the cluster, between three key Kazan 2015 venues?

- We drew upon our sports event management  experience and also the experience of hosting major city events at the site near to the Kazan Arena Stadium. It has a wonderful infrastructure: a huge square, convenient access ways; public transport stop areas are currently being arranged there.  In winter local citizens and visitors alike go to a free skating rink that is laid down close to the stadium.

- Let’s make it clear: is the idea to set up the FINA Water World Park belongs to the organisers or it is a requirement for all nations that host the World Aquatics Championships?

- It’s our know how (laughs). It goes without saying that organizers of all World Aquatics Championships did their best to set up these parks close to venues. The main reason for this is visitors’ convenience as the partner booths will be located in the park along with historical and cultural programmes that are first of all designed for visitors. But we were first to decide to make a  single cluster where the FINA Water World Park would be located between  three key Championships venues. And this became one of the main features of our bid campaign.

- Speaking about local citizens. Each host country usually does its best to show off its national flavour. Can we expect something like this in Kazan during the 2015 FINA World Championships?

- Sure. Kazan will be shown to visitors as a young city but with ancient traditions; the city where the East and West meet. We will try to tell visitors about our history. A part of the park will be turned into a farmstead where various masterclasses wil be held. Visitors wil be able to try their hand in coining or in pottery. An artisan fair will be set up nearby where national souvenirs will be sold and interactive booths will be located.

- So you mean that visitors will be enjoying themselves to the strains of coin making?

- Of course not. A main stage will be installed in the park and every evening various dancers and singers of our city and Russian celebrities will give performances there. Every day there will be a new programme made of various remarkable shows. The Sozvezdie-Yoldyzlyk Festival, which has become Tatarstan’s landmark event, will also be staged here. We will also have the Jazz in the Sandetsky Mansion Festival, the event that has already acquired nationwide scale, but has long been existing under the brand of Kazan and Tatarstan. Therefore we can add it to the list of national assets. 

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Comedy Club Russia's inspectors were positively impressed by their visit to Kazan

– We've released an announcement about the Aqua Comedy Club show on the official website. Does it mean that the country's top show people are seeking to be part of the Kazan 2015 cultural programme?

– Comedians often come to perform in our city; they don't need any major occasion for that. They simply know that Kazan is the city of joyful people. There's always something they can joke at and, most importantly, people in the capital of Tatarstan are very appreciative and have a very good sense of humour. As for the event you've mentioned, it became possible thanks to the support of Interim President of the Republic of Tatarstan Rustam Minnikhanov. In fact, Comedy Club Russia has been looking for a place where they can implement this project. And the main principle for them was 'we like this place, let's go there'. This way they chose to go Sochi, St. Petersburg. There still was the third city that needed to be chosen. After visiting Kazan, they left for Moscow fully content with what they saw. 

The organisers chose Basket Hall as their event venue. It's comfortable and is able to accommodate 7,000 spectators. Of course the zoning will be different from the zoning for basketball competitions. Comedy Club's signature tables will be installed in the stalls, temporary stands will be set up. Shortly speaking, it will be a common festival practice. The important thing is that the event will be held during two days: residents' performances will be filmed on the first day. Obviously, the performances will be dedicated to the FINA World Championships. The broadcasting will be divided into two parts. The shows are expected to be aired in September-October. 

- Ok, everything is clear with comedians.  What about entertainment stars? Who will come to perform in Kazan?

- There’s quite an interesting story with the Russian pop singer Nyusha. Her sibling, Maria Shuroshkina, is the world synchronised swimming champion. And we found out that she’s coming for the Championships in Kazan. Nyusha is a real star, a music artist who is adored by a younger audience. She was honoured to become part of such an event as the FINA World Championships. She promised she will attend competitions and support all Russian athletes. All we can do is see and wait when her sister wins another gold medal. It’s quite possible that being overwhelmed with positive emotions Nyusha will agree to sing something in celebration of her sister’s victory. But her sister will have to put in some real effort into this (smiles). 

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– Will there be any foreign celebrities performing?

– Instead of inviting foreign celebrities, we decided to let Russian performers rule the stage. All the more so we have some talented artists we can be proud of. Of course, celebrities will perform both during the Opening and Closing Ceremonies. But I’m not allowed to tell the exact names.

What is important is to understand that the FINA World Championships are essentially high performance sports. That’s why I first of all invite everyone to attend the competitions whereas the cultural programme will be a pleasant addition to the sporting event. After all, the Championships are the qualification tournament for the Rio Olympic Games; competitors will fight tooth and nail. There will be some real action to watch. By the way, it has already been revealed that our tournament will have the largest prize pool in FINA World Championships history.

– And the Opening Ceremony? Can you lift a little bit the veil of mystery surrounding the event?

– I will not tell anything new. The opening will take place at the Tatneft Arena Sports Palace. And we’ve teamed up again with Igor Krutoy and his team. The show’s production director is Alexey Sechenov.

– Was it a deliberate decision to start working with the same production director?

– Yes, it was.  I think all of us remember in what a big way the Universiade Opening and Closing Ceremonies were hosted in Kazan. Although, this time they won’t be held at the football stadium, but at the ice hockey stadium. However, the show will not be staged on the ice, but on the ground, in water and in the air. The show will be really awesome both in terms of its message and performance. Hopefully, in the end everything will turn out the way it was planned. I think that Igor Krutoy and Alexey Sechenov’s team implements projects that are definitely worth seeing. All the more so we made an unprecedented decision and the show will be staged not just once, but eight times so that everyone who wants to see may attend it. Ticket prices are rather affordable and they are still available. The major difference of the Opening Ceremony from its re-runs is that there won’t be any protocol events in the shows. What I mean is that welcome speeches, flag-raising ceremony and athletes’ parade will take place on the opening day while on other days there will be a pure show. 

It is impossible for foreigners to grasp that there can be such a thing as the Temple of All Religions

- As far as I remember, a lot of questions were asked about the Opening Ceremonies during the first meeting of the Partners’ League. How are the things going on in this field?

– The Partners’ League? Yes, work is in progress in this field as well. It’s a good thing that there are questions. It’s much worse when there are no questions at all or they arise when nothing can be done. There’s a very good saying, “A person that asks looks stupid only five minutes, a person that never asks looks stupid entire life”. That’s why we should be glad that our partners have questions and be even more glad that we have answers to them (smiles).

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– Can you tell us a few words about the implementation of the marketing programme? Are there enough items in the product line?

– New products arrive every week. About 30 product items are already available in our stores.  Kazan 2015 merchandise is currently sold at more than 70 outlets around the city. The first signature store of our official retailer, Khoroshow, has also been opened in Ostrovsky Street. Pretty soon about 7-8 stores of this retailer will be dressed in Championships colours. Our products will be also offered in shopping malls and supermarkets. I can assure you that we’ll have no problems with the merchandise sales. The other thing we need to understand is that the production of new merchandise, especially large batches of it, doesn’t take 2-3 days. That’s why we need to be prepared for the fact that some merchandise will go on sale immediately before the World Championships. 

- You’ve successfully presented the upcoming 2015 FINA World Championships in Montreal, Berlin and other major cities around the world. Has our city become recognisable internationally now and how popular are its tourist attractions outside Russia?

 - Thanks to the Universiade and a number of other sporting events, Kazan has become recognisable not only in Europe but all over the world. That’s why we didn’t need to explain much who we are and where we are from. Many more people just ask how to get to Kazan and enquire about visa and visa-free regimes.  Kazan has become a tourist destination! They are inspired by our stories about tourist attractions. Most people are simply astonished when we mentioned the Temple of All Religions. It is impossible for most people to grasp that representatives of so many religions and beliefs peacefully coexist in one republic. We are also asked about the political situation but we always come up with the same answer: sport is beyond any politics.  

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– Does it mean that the stereotype about bears walking walking along streets in Russia has become history?

– Yes, it does. We constantly introduce some new technologies that are new even for them. A year and a half ago nobody believed that the augmented reality project, which allows taking an interactive tour of Kazan's major tourist attractions, was even possible. But we invested every effort to make it happen. Therefore, there are some spheres where Russia is ahead of the curve, while Kazan is a real powerhouse. People who see our presentations for the first time are often surprised and inspired and express immediate willingness to see everything with their own eyes.    

– And how drastically the city will change before the Championships? 

– The city will be very beautiful. The concept has already been developed and approved by all parties, including the International Swimming Federation. Normally the organisers start dressing the city a week before the competitions and undress it two days after the tournament ends. We've extended the dates. We started dressing the city on July 1. So pretty soon Kazan will show its completely new look. 

Vsevolod Dvorkin, Press Office of Organising Committee for 16th FINA World Championships