The 2021 International Federation of Sport Climbing (IFSC) World Championships officially opened in Moscow, Russia, this evening, with distinguished guests and a combination of dancers, music, and a mesmerising display of lights welcoming masked spectators to the Irina Viner-Usmanova Gymnastics Palace.
Lights and lasers opened the show to an electric mix of music, with the words ‘fastest’, ‘highest’, and ‘strongest’ projected on the climbing walls to depict the three Sport Climbing disciplines of Speed, Lead, and Boulder. Dancers then took to the stage, with giant glittering flower petals in the centre of the performance opening to reveal a spectacular, contorted figure inside.
Opening ceremony hosts expressed their gratitude to the IFSC, CFR, and to the Moscow Department of Sports that the 18th edition of the Climbing World Championships is taking place in Moscow. In addition to championships in Boulder, Lead, and Speed, the city will also this week welcome the Paraclimbing World Championships, with qualifications already complete and finals taking place tomorrow evening. A total of 301 climbers will participate in the Climbing World Championships from 16 to 21 September (188 in Boulder, 178 in Lead, and 99 in Speed), and 114 are competing in the Paraclimbing World Championships from 15 to 17 September. Flag bearers paraded the stage on behalf of each of the 44 nationalities participating in the IFSC Climbing and Paraclimbing World Championships.
Esteemed guests were next invited to share their words, including First Deputy Head of the Moscow Department of Sports and Olympic champion Svetlana Bazhanova, President of the ROC and four-time Olympic champion, CFR President Dmitrii Bychkov, and IFSC Secretary General Debra Gawrych. Each welcomed the championships to Moscow in front of an arena of masked and socially-distanced spectators, thanking all those involved for their perseverance in making the competition happen during the pandemic. Determination and hope were key themes throughout the opening speeches, with Sport Climbing also being congratulated on its successful Olympic debut at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 this August.
“We dreamed of this moment and despite the pandemic and lockdowns, here we are,” said CFR President Dmitrii Bychkov. “It is heartening to share this with some of the best Sport Climbing athletes, as well as those watching around the globe. Thanks to the IFSC for making it happen.”
“It took time for Sport Climbing to become an Olympic sport, but you persevered and now we are here. What an incredible show in Tokyo and there is an incredible future for Sport Climbing. I wish continued success to the athletes and hope everyone enjoys the show,” said the President of the ROC.
IFSC Secretary General Debra Gawrych talked of the triumphs of Sport Climbing in spite of the pandemic, and expressed her appreciation to those who have helped Sport Climbing achieve the Olympic dream, before officially declaring the 2021 IFSC Climbing and Paraclimbing World Championships open.
The first finals will take place this evening in Speed, followed by Paraclimbing finals tomorrow night.