The sixth Universiade was originally scheduled to be held in the summer of 1969 in Lisbon, but with Portugal mired deep in political crisis following the collapse of Prime Minister Antonio de Oliveira Salazar’s regime, the city had little choice but to pull out.
With a glaring hole needing to be plugged, it was none other than Turin – host of the inaugural Unviersiade in 1959 – that came to the rescue, putting its hand up to stage the Games with only one year to prepare. And not only did the Italian city fill in, it delivered big time.
The second Turin Universiade featured more than 2,800 participants from 58 countries, shattering previous Games’ participation figures with FISU President and Turin native Primo Nebiolo personally tugging the reins.
Drawing on the experience of hosting the very first Universiade, Nebiolo and organisers were confident about stepping in for Lisbon, and the quality of the organisation spilled over to the competition as record after record were rewritten. In all, 98 national, 40 Unviersiade, two European and two world records were broken in Turin – a reflection of the ever-improving technical standards at the Universiades, which were becoming increasingly important as a stepping stone toward the Olympics for athletes in line for potential selection.
The two world records were set by a pair of Germans in athletics, who would go on to top the Olympic podium two years later in Munich: West German long jumper Heide Rosendahl, and pole vaulter Wolfgang Nordwig of East Germany. Many countries also dispatched their full-strength teams in basketball, while swimming produced 10 and five Universiade and national records, respectively.
Nebiolo said the Turin Universiade broke ground for future Universiades, playing a crucial role in the evolution of the university sports movement.
“This was made possible by the good will of young people who want to excel and solve problems not just on the field of competition, but in other areas of life to renovate society and make it more open-minded, more modern to meet expectations and requirements of the new generation,” said Nebiolo.