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Elevating quality of life through sports
20 JUL 2021
Kazan leveraged on international sporting events and broad-based infrastructural upgrades with a focus on health, nutrition, and greenery to quickly improve the health of its people, elevate its quality of life and become the sports capital of Russia.1
Environmental degradation as a result of rapid industrialisation during the Soviet period and lack of proper infrastructure led to a general lack of motivation in the people of Kazan to adopt healthy lifestyles and sporting activities.
This is further compounded by youth crimes, falling birth rates and health issues which affected the quality of life since the 1970s.
Since 2006, the new leadership team under Mayor Ilsur Metshin turned this around by strategically developing urban infrastructure with a focus on sports and health.
Since then, Kazan has been named the ‘Sports Capital of Russia’ and hosted several key sporting events, such as the 2013 Summer Universiade, 2014 World Fencing Championships, the 2015 World Aquatics Championships, and is one of the host cities for the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup and the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
A low level of interest for sports and healthy lifestyles due to inadequate sporting facilities and environmental degradation, leading to health issues and increased crimes, such as drug abuse.
In 2006, only 13.1 percent of Kazan’s population (or approximately one in every seven citizens) participated in sports.
In that same year, the city’s mortality rate exceeded the birth rate for the first time.
Kazan was a city that was known for its youth crimes and unhealthy populace, an undesirable image that the city wanted to shed. At the same time, the low quality of life resulted in an exodus of local talents to other cities or abroad.
Through close collaboration with the Republican and Federal authorities, and consistent engagement of its citizens, Kazan made a tremendous breakthrough in its development to become one of the most modern and developed cities in Russia.
The city first introduced a five-year health programme to improve health and sports infrastructure, as well as events and campaigns to promote healthy living. It also modernised its healthcare facilities and updated them with state-of-the-art medical equipment.
The city formed its Environmental Council in 2012 with leading experts responsible for the city’s landscaping, strengthening the green structure and improving the conditions of recreational, coastal and aquatic areas.
The city also established boards of trustees for 25 parks and public gardens from enterprises and organisations that took patronage.
In 2016, Kazan adopted the ‘Kazan 2030 Strategy’ for social and economic development. The Strategy emphasises on healthy lifestyles, while increasing the share of population engaged in physical activities and sports up to 50 percent and life expectancy to 76 years by 2030.
Kazan leveraged on international sporting events such as the hosting of the 2013 XXVII World Summer Universiade for broad-based infrastructural upgrades across the city, as well as restoration of its historic district, thus helping to solve multiple urban challenges at once.
Cycling is also gaining popularity among the citizens as the authorities create the necessary infrastructure such as bicycle parking, dedicated lanes, and an automated rental system.
Kazan regards food nutrition as the basis of quality of life and upbringing of a healthy generation, thereafter, equating to a healthy nation. The Department of Food and Social Catering of Kazan is the largest food industry operator in the Republic of Tatarstan, catering meals for 265,000 people every day, including school children and hospital patients.
The Interregional Clinical Diagnostic Centre is a 100 percent publicly owned entity that offers surgical procedures, in- and out-patient care, and conducts research to improve the health of citizens.
The city carried out several landscaping projects to improve its environmental quality, and involved residents, large enterprises, environmentalists, specialists, and community-based organisations.
Kazan successfully shed its undesirable image of the past and saw a reduction of mortality rate. For example, deaths associated with heart attacks decreased from 86.4 to 58.2 per 100,000 (or 32.6 percent decrease) from 2006-2014, with a decrease in the number of smokers, drug addicts and crimes.
Currently, approximately 40 percent or every one in three citizens engage in sports activities regularly, an increase of 26.9 percent from 2006.
The hosting of 2013 Universiade helped develop urban spaces and provide urban amenities, with the facilities well-utilised post-event. The medical centre constructed for the Universiade Village now functions as a students’ polyclinic for about 70,000 people from 27 education institutions.
As of 2017, there are 2,027 sports facilities including 15 stadiums, 12 roofed ice arenas, 54 swimming pools, 378 sports halls and 942 planar sports venues.
The high-tech medical care continues to develop with services capacity already larger than in Moscow. In 2012, unique heart/vascular operations were performed for the first time.
Kazan now has its own bicycle ring which is a part of the ‘Amazing Kazan’ route, which passes through the central historical part of the city.
In the area of landscaping, the ‘Green Record’ project planted 151,400 trees, 66,400 shrubs and over 500,000m2 of new lawns; the ‘Blossoming Kazan’ project involved the local community to grow some 22 million flowers over three years, and held a floral festival for 500,000 spectators; and the ‘100 Public Gardens’ project improved old public gardens, while integrating the new ones.
Kazan demonstrates how cities can improve their quality of life with a focus on a healthy population. The emphasis on sports, medicine, and nutrition to improve people’s lives has paid off, with positive indicators such as increased life expectancy and rising birth rates.
The branding as a sports city and hosting of international events help Kazan improve its city image on the global front. O