SHENZHEN -- China's organizers have vowed to open the 26th World University Games with a totally "unique" ceremony Friday night in Shenzhen, a southern Chinese city that neighbors Hong Kong.
With the spectacular opening of Beijing 2008 Olympics still lingering in the memoies of many, Shenzhen is keen to impress the world in a different way when the Universiade start at the Shenzhen Bay Sports Center, nicknamed the "Spring Cocoon" because of its look.
"Unlike the ceremonies of previous multi-sport events, we've given emphasis to the ritual itself and the athletes, while the artisitc performance takes secondary role," said Jiang Haoyang, the chief director of the opening ceremony for the Shenzhen Universiade, which take place from Aug. 12 to 23.
According to Jiang, no celebrities will perform in the one-and-a-half hour event that involves more than 3,000 student actors, accounting for about 90 percent of the performers.
"Since it is an event for students, they should be the stars of the show," he said.
Jiang added that a highlight of the opening ceremony is the athlete parade.
"The athletes from more than 150 countries and regions will walk through the 'Gate of the World', which is actually a huge LED wall, onto the 'Youth Boulevard' and then into the field," he said.
"Spectators can enjoy the colorful scenes on the LED wall when it is closed and the spectacular night scenery of Shenzhen bay when it is open." The girls who are charged with ushering in the 152 delegations at the opening ceremony will dress in different styles, which is also perceived as a distinctive feature from previous major games.
Zhang Lichuan, a teacher at Shenzhen University, along with his 20 students, designed these costumes that "fully demonstrate the creativity of Shenzhen's college students", said Jiang.
Who will light the main torch still remains top secret, but Jiang said that the cauldron will be kept as a city landmark after the Games. The 26-meters high cauldron resembles a book mountain, carved with when and where each Universiade was held on each "book", and with "2011 Shenzhen" on top.
Shenzhen has held two rehearsals for the opening ceremony with the last one scheduled on Wednesday night.
Generally known as the "small Olympic Games", the Universiade is held every two years. Beijing hosted the 21th edition of the Summer Universiade in 2001 and Harbin, a northeast Chinese city, staged the 24th Winter Universiade in 2009.