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08 October 2020 | in FISU, Meetings

FISU Executive Committee meets virtually

The FISU Executive Committee met virtually on Thursday; the second meeting for the new executive that was elected in November 2019, for the 2019-2023 term. While the meeting in February focused on a review of 2019, this meeting focused on charting the current and future course.


EC screenshotLAUSANNE, Switzerland – The President of the International University Sports Federation (FISU) Oleg Matytsin, opened the FISU Executive Committee meeting by thanking the entire FISU family for keeping the energy of university sports up through the COVID-19 lockdown, for continuing to develop the FISU programme and preparing for the main events for the next few years.


“The pandemic is not yet at its end,” said Matytsin. “And so, we have to continue to cooperate in a more efficient and effective way. This online format has proved to be effective and has helped us organise our Steering Committee meetings in order to be able to make several important decisions on time.”


The FISU President also thanked the Steering Committee as well as FISU staff, led by Secretary General-CEO Eric Saintrond, for ensuring that the work of the global university sports movement continued through the pandemic.


The agenda of the Executive Committee meeting was considerably condensed to be able to accommodate members joining in from times zones as varied as the Americas to Oceania.



Report of the President and the Steering Committee


FISU President EC Oct 2020The FISU President then presented the report from the Steering Committee.


“Along with our partners such as the other International Federations of sport, our National University Sports Federations (NUSFs) and Continental University Sports Federations (CUSFs), as well as universities, we have been able to continue working according to our Global Strategy 2027,” said Matytsin.


“We have tried to normalise the process as much as possible. Unfortunately, we had to cancel or postpone most of our events for this year, other than the FISU World Forum and the FISU Volunteer Leaders Academy (FVLA) that were held in an online format. For this, I thank the respective Organising Committees in Budapest and Kazan, respectively.”


“I believe we have a bright future, because we already have candidates for the 2025 editions of the FISU World University Games, and even later editions,” he added, before handing over to Treasurer Bayasgalan Danzandorj for his bi-annual report.



FISU Treasurer's Report 


The FISU Treasurer Bayasgalan Danzandorj reported the current finances of the organisation and also mentioned that financial assistance was given to the National University Sports Federations (NUSFs) whose World University Championship events had been cancelled in 2020.


Danzandorj also explained that Continental University Sports Federations (CUSFs) were given the opportunity to adapt their projects for 2020, due to the COVID-19  pandemic, even as FISU maintained the same general budgetary allocations pledged to them.



FISU Secretary-General's Report


ES EC Oct 2020The major challenge in the past six months was the management of the COVID-19 crisis and its impact on the work and functioning of FISU, said FISU Secretary General-CEO Eric Saintrond, as he presented his report.


Saintrond explained to the Executive Committee, the steps that were taken in accordance with the requirements of the Swiss Confederation and the Canton de Vaud. This included all staff shifting to a home working schedule in March 2020, as well as reorganisation of the offices ahead of the staff’s return post July, keeping social distancing rules in mind.


“In the month of August we came back to office in four groups, and we have been working on alternate days in office ever since,” said Saintrond. “I believe it was successful and we will continue with this system for the moment.”


On the FISU events front, Saintrond spoke about the cancellation of almost the entire World University Championship season except Speed Skating (held in March) and Mind Sports (scheduled for late October). FISU’s postponed sports events also include the 2020 University World Cup 3X3 Basketball as well as the World Univeristy Games in Lucerne, originally scheduled for January 2021.


“The decision was really done the right way,” stressed Saintrond. “We constantly spoke to all the Organising Committees throughout and they were on board when the decision of cancellation was taken.”


The pandemic situation led to innovation and adaptation for some of FISU’s flagship educational events, such as the 2020 FISU World Forum and the FISU Volunteer Leaders Academy that were organised virtually for the first time.


“Also, in May, we launched the FISU Healthy Campus project, which now has around 40 universities already on board,” said Saintrond. “We have very important universities that are part of this programme.”


In addition, the Secretary General touched upon other virtual campaigns and events that FISU organised through the lockdown, including the first-ever FISU eSports Challenge Football, the #FitAtHome social media campaign and the IDUS Dance Challenge, created for the International Day of University Sport. Eric Saintrond also underlined the learnings from the COVID-19 period, including the possibility of replacing many inspection visits with virtual meetings.


“We will look at less travel in the future,” he said. “It is the right direction for the development of sustainability in FISU.”



Report from the Education Committee


Verena EC Oct 2020Verena Burk, Chair of the FISU Education Committee presented the successful 2020 FISU World Forum that was held online due to the pandemic.


“We had shorter sessions so that everyone around the world could participate,” said Burk. “And we ended up with impressive facts and figures, including 1400 registered participants.”


“We also conducted a survey among participants and the average satisfaction rate was 4.5 out of 5.”


Regarding next steps, Verena Burk said the FISU Education Committee will use this year’s experience to adapt the format and protocol for future education events, which will be more hybrid in nature – physical events with online features that allow more people around the world to participate.  


Lilia Barieva, Director of FISU Education and Development presented the success of the International Day of University Sport (IDUS), mentioning that despite the restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, online activities meant that 116 FISU members celebrated IDUS in their countries.


Finally, the dates for the next FISU World Forum to be held in Costa Rica were confirmed to be 8-12 April 2022. The 2021 FISU Volunteer Leaders Academy will be held over two sessions as was done this year, with an online introductory session on 19-20 June​ 2021 and then the main programme in Kazan, Russia, from 8-14 September​ 2021.



Report from FISU Development Committee


FISU First Vice President and Chair of Development Committee Leonz Eder explained that due to the Covid-19 pandemic global situation, FISU had to adapt the allocation of budgets for development projects at the CUSF level. The continental members were given the opportunity to adjust their initial proposals and plans, keeping the same general budget allocation.


“If they were not able to hold physical events and competitions, they had the option to adjust their plans and use the budgetary allocation for adapted projects and programmes,” said Eder.


Lilia Barieva once again mentioned that the online format of some of the projects were a real success from the point of view of member federations as they allowed more NUSFs to participate.


FISU, along with the Chengdu 2021 Organising Committee, is launching a ‘Step-Up’ programme for financial support to member (and non-member) associations in order to ensure greater NUSF participation at the Games.



Report from the FISU Healthy Campus department


Fernando EC Oct 2020FISU Healthy Campus & Universities Director Fernando Parente announced that forty (40) universities have now officially come on board the FISU Healthy Campus programme that was launched in May 2020. The universities represent a student body of about 600,000 students from 30 countries, spanning five continents.


“We are working to reach our target number of eighty universities by the end of 2020,” said Parente. “But as you know this current situation is not normal. Universities are dealing with the pandemic, many are still struggling to open their sports facilities.”


Parente also said that meetings are being held with former and current Organising Committees of FISU events to consider the Healthy Campus project as a legacy programme. ​



Media & Communication Committee Report


Luciano EC Oct 2020FISU Vice President and Media & Communication Committee Chair Luciano Cabral highlighted the nearly 60 projects and campaigns undertaken by the FISU Media and Communication department during the March-September 2020 period, which was largely the period of quarantine around the world.


“We developed many new projects and actions in the Media & Communication team,” said Cabral. “Our focus was to make sure we kept our audiences engaged and continue to spread the message of FISU. I am happy to report that we saw good numbers in engagement with our several multi-platform campaigns.”


Cabral also mentioned the increased cooperation with national member federations in areas like content sharing and brainstorming that have led to a more cohesive communication strategy.




FISU World University Championships and University World Cups


Mind SPortsMarian Dymalski, Chair of the International Technical Committee for FISU World University Championships expressed his appreciation for the fact that the World University Championship Mind Sports had been switched to an online format, scheduled to be held later in October, in a year when most of the Championships calendar had to be cancelled.


“I urge all my colleagues in national federations to register their participants in this event,” said Dymalski.


FISU Director General Paulo Ferreira added, “We’re very focused on ensuring a successful Mind Sports event. Everything is online and there is no participation fee.”


Ferreira also mentioned the success of the first-ever FISU eSports Challenge, saying that the event was potentially something FISU will continue to look into, keeping in mind how it can progress within the framework of university sports.


Marian Dymalski explained that no World University Championship events were postponed to 2021, as was briefly considered, because the international sports calendar would be overbooked.


In a positive development, it was confirmed that 76% percent of contracts for the hosting of 2022 Championships and Cups have been completed.



Lucerne 2021 FISU World University Games


Stoos, the resort for Alpine Skiing FISU First Vice President Leonz Eder opened the discussion on the postponed Lucerne 2021 FISU World University Games by saying that it was “Very difficult to accept the fact that the result of almost five years of preparation was derailed by the unforeseen pandemic.”


“On the other hand, the health of all involved is our top priority,” he continued. “The decision to postpone the event from January 2021 was therefore only logical.”


FISU Winter Games Director Milan Augustin presented the results of a survey conducted among national member federations as well as the six International Federations governing the sports of the winter Games. In general, December 2021 emerged as the strongest possibility for rescheduling the games.


Urs Hunkeler, Managing Director of the Lucerne 2021 Organising Committee said, “We are trying to find the best possibility for postponed dates.”


Regula Schweizer, Head Office Director of OC, added that “going ahead with January 2021 would have meant we would not create the legacy that we wished for, for the Swiss population and also for Swiss sports. After several discussions with FISU and Swiss University Sports, as well as other stakeholders, we jointly decided to stop preparations for the event to be held in January 2021.”


President Matytsin concluded the discussion by saying “First of all, we organise the games for the athletes, for the students. And we have to keep in mind the national budgeting and international sport calendars.”


“Therefore, I urge the Organising Committee to work closely with FISU and find the best solutions for holding the postponed Games in December 2021.”



Chengdu 2021 FISU World University Games


Chengdu Rowing venue 2FISU Vice President Shen Zhen said that the developments related to the Tokyo Olympics were being closely monitored in the preparations for Chengdu 2021


“We have held many online meetings to continue to monitor the progress,” he said. “The Municipal Government attaches great importance to the FISU World University Games. Therefore, construction and renovations of venues is very much on schedule.”


“Downward trends in markets have not affected the budgets as the Chinese government  fully backs the games,” added Zhen. “The Federation of University Sports of China (FUSC) has formed a special team to coordinate the tasks in the lead up to the Games. This special team will visit Chengdu every month from here on.”


FISU Summer Games Director Marc Vandenplas expressed the urgent need for the Summer Games team to also be able to work onsite, despite the hundreds of online meetings held so far.


“We are hoping that as early as end of this year we will be able to work onsite,” said Vandenplas. “We have seen some delays, although the change of Mayor of Chengdu is probably one of the reasons for some delayed tenders.”


The Chengdu 2021 Organising Committee then presented their comprehensive progress report, including detailed venue reports as well as the master competition schedule. The Organising Committee also highlighted the fact that a Chengdu 2021 TV channel had been launched, along with a news cooperation agreement with the Xinhua global news agency.



Future World University Games


The Executive Committee meeting concluded with progress reports from more future hosts of the World University Games; including the Organising Committees of the Lake Placid 2023 and Ekaterinburg 2023 winter and summer editions respectively.


Finally, Senior EC Member Verena Burk presented developments related to the German candidature for the 2025 summer games, while EC member Lorenzo Lentini presented Italy’s intent to bid for the winter edition in 2025.


“It is great that despite the current situation we have such strong support and intent from sporting powerhouse countries like Germany and Italy,” said FISU Secretary General Eric Saintrond. “They have always been very supportive of FISU and we are indeed very thankful for their candidature.”


FISU President Oleg Matytsin added a further word of gratitude for the potential future games’ hosts in 2025.


“We look forward to making the final decisions on the 2025 games soon,” he said, as he closed the meeting.


The Executive Committee will once again be in session on 6 November 2020, as due to the online format, some agenda items were scheduled for a later date.


FISU byline Tina