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Reddy, steady, go!

Visakhapatnam, India, August 5, 2005 - A spicy opening ceremony gave visitors a true taste of India at the Rajiv Gandhi Indoor Stadium on Friday evening.

The ceremony, on the eve of the 13th Men's U21 World Championship, featured dancers in colourful local costumes from the state of Andhra Pradesh, plus a laser show and drum performance.

A representative of the 12 teams was introduced to the Chief Guest, Dr. Y. S. Raja Sekhara Reddy, Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, who later declared the championship open.

The guests of honour were Sivanthi Adityan, Executive Vice-President of the FIVB and President of the Volleyball Federation of India, and Cristobal Marte Hoffiz, Vice-President of the FIVB and Chairman of the Control Committee.

On approaching the main venue for the championship, guests were greeted by two giant inflatable mascots, VolliBob, and the entrance was decorated with garlands.

The presence of the Chief Minister attracted frenzied attention from the local photographers, and guaranteed wide publicity for the event, which starts on Saturday in two venues.

The welcome speech was made by Janardhana Reddy, Member of Parliament and Chairman of the Organising Commitee.

The ceremony certainly set the scene for the days ahead, as India's team was cheered passionately by a near capacity crowd.