162 Nations participating
3949 Athletes participating
The Fukuoka 1995 Universiade took place in a time of turmoil but once again exhibited the power of sport to build bridges between peoples of all countries and backgrounds.
While war was raging in ex-Yugoslavia, athletes from both sides of the conflict were living together peacefully at the athlete’s village in Japan and competing in a spirit of fair play.
United Nations Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali said in a message broadcast during the Opening Ceremony: “The world itself is returning to the recognition that competition need not be combative, nor does the victory of one necessarily imply the defeat of another. It is learning to accept, once again, the truth that triumph derives from the quality of performance and not simply from the arithmetic of the result. And it has reawakened to the realisation that differences in nation or culture are transcended by the commonness of humanity. These are precepts to which the Universiade is no stranger and which it has so ably represented.”
Fukuoka 1995 was the fourth Universiade staged in Japan, and, like its predecessors, was impeccably organised. The host city and fans would be rewarded for their hard work and hospitality by the performance of the Japanese team (which finished second overall behind the USA) and in particular by local teenager Ryoko Tani (neé Tamura).
The 19-year-old judoka had made a name for herself a few years earlier when she won silver at the Olympic Games Barcelona 1992. Coming into the Universaide, she was on an eye-popping 64-match unbeaten streak that included her first World Championship.
To say that expectations were high for the hometown heroine in the first women’s judo events at the Universiade would be a massive understatement. But she would not disappoint, crushing the competition en route to gold. “It was very moving for me to win here in front of my parents and friends,” said the Teikyo University student following her victory.
Tani would go on to become a two-time Olympic champion and seven-time World Champion in a career spanning almost two decades. Until her retirement in 2010, she was defeated only five times, leading the International Judo Federation to call her the “best female judoka ever.”
The Fukuoka Universiade generated some impressive numbers: 144 events in 12 sports; 3,949 athletes from 162 countries; 3,989 media representatives; 900,000 spectators; 32,770 people who actively participated in making the event a success (including the local organisers, volunteers, interpreters and technical staff).