Exactly twenty years after Argentina first organized this event, the 2002 Volleyball World Championship started Saturday evening in Buenos Aires.
The opening ceremony took place in Argentina's capital city, anticipating a very exciting tournament, in which 24 squads will fight to obtain the title.
Organizers surprised the 10,000 people in attendance with an excellent 50 minute performance, which included tango dancers and a colorful show. The crowd enjoyed the noisy rhythm of the local "murgas," a very popular artistic expression in Argentina and Uruguay. Murga dancers disguised in yellow, white, and red uniforms played for ten minutes as they usually do during the carnival season.
Argentine popular culture was performed before an overcrowded stadium in a very emotive ceremony. Later, the multitude remembered the most outstanding moments in local sports history, when video screen images were shown. Of course, Diego Maradona's picture of him during the Football World Cup in Mexico 1986 received the largest ovation.
The celebrations ended with very short speeches of the National Minister of Sports and Tourism, Daniel Scioli and the President of the International Volleyball Federation, Dr. Ruben Acosta. Then, the first game began: Argentina vs. Australia.
The locals won three sets to one in a very emotional match. Australia started playing better than Argentina and easily obtained the first set 25 - 22. However, Argentina recovered and, led by its star player, Marcos Milinkovic, defeated Australia in the second match 25 - 18.
Then, both teams played very equally two tough sets in which Argentina prevailed at last after a big struggle for each point. A colorful and enthusiastic crowd supported the locals and lived this initial game as one of the finals. In the end, Argentina, backed by its people, beat the fierce opposition of its rival and obtained a result that eases its road to the second round.
In turn, Russia will play Sunday against Bulgaria in the opening of Pool C. Further opponents of the last champions of the World league are France and Tunisia.
Hernan Etchaleco PRAVDA.Ru Argentina
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