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Kaliningrad World Cup venue opening called off amid extreme weather

Kaliningrad Stadium, World Cup 2018 venue
The Kaliningrad Stadium had been due to open on March 22.

The Russian Ministry of Sport has called off the opening match of Kaliningrad's World Cup stadium later this month because of extreme weather conditions.

Bundesliga club Schalke had been scheduled to play Russian second division side Baltika Kaliningrad on March 22.

Schalke, whose shirts are sponsored by Russian gas company Gazprom, had been invited to inaugurate the Kaliningrad Stadium, located in the Russian enclave between Poland and Lithuania.

However, in a statement on their official website Schalke said the game was off.

"Due to the recent extreme cold being experienced in Russia, the authorities have come to the decision that no games should be played in any of the stadiums being used for the World Cup before April 11," the statement said, adding that the decision had been taken by the Ministry of Sport.

Temperatures in Kaliningrad have not gone above zero degrees Celsius in recent weeks, and are currently at -15°.

Alexander Rolbinov, vice-president of the local government in the city, said: "Due to the ministry's recommendation and the current weather, we've decided to call the game off."

Stephan Uersfeld is the Germany correspondent for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @uersfeld.

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