AFP

World Student Games open in Belgrade

World Student Games open in Belgrade
By AFP

02/07/2009 at 12:16Updated

The 25th World Student Games opened on Wednesday in Serbia, the biggest sporting event ever held in the Balkan state, with more than 8,500 athletes from 140 countries taking part in the event.

During the 12-day long event, student athletes will compete in fifteen sports in arenas and stadiums in the capital Belgrade and other Serbian towns.

Serbian Prime Minister Mirko Cvetkovic officially opened the Universiade 2009 at the ceremony at the Beogradska Arena hall, with a number of participants present.

The largest delegations, with around 500 members each, are from China, Russia and the United States.

However, swine flu fears have raised concerns among health authorities of a wider outbreak in Serbia, which has already reported 13 cases of its own citizens infected with the deadly A(H1N1) virus in the past few days.

Belgrade's sparkling new University Village housing athletes features a quarantine clinic, and every suspected case will be isolated there for six hours while laboratory tests are done.

Sports events include archery, artistic gymnastics, athletics, basketball, diving, fencing, football, gymnastics, judo, rhythmic gymnastics, swimming, table tennis, taekwondo, tennis and water polo.

The main star of the athletics competition is Portugal's 2008 Olympics triple-jump champion Nelson Evora, who won the 2007 world championships with the second best jump ever of 17.74 metres.

Another seven Olympic champions are also expected to compete, as well as several world and European record-holders.

The next games, staged every two years, will be hosted by China.

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