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10 December 2021 | in Meetings

FISU Executive Committee meets online to end 2021

(left to right) Eric Saintrond, Leonz Eder, and Bayasgalan DanzandorjThe unfortunate cancellation of the Lucerne 2021 Winter Universiade moved the FISU Executive Committee meeting online. With much to discuss, the two-day gathering touched on many topics related to FISU events and programmes.


Day One


Report of the President


FISU Acting President Leonz Eder got day one going with his report. The focal point was, of course, Lucerne 2021 and its cancellation.


“Not only [was this] a personal drama for me, but a big shock for the entire organising committee, the entire FISU Family, our delegations, and especially the young athletes who could not come to Central Switzerland to compete and meet each other.”


The President alluded to the fact that there was no other choice but to cancel as the restrictions from Swiss federal authorities made it extremely difficult to host the games as planned. He did add that sports people never give up and to “Look forward and seize opportunities 2022 will offer us.”


Report of the Secretary General


FISU CEO and Secretary General Eric Saintrond next highlighted the enormous changes in programmes and activities for staff due to the cancellation and that staff will work from home as of the week of 20 December.


Saintrond indicated that meetings with the Lucerne 2021 Organising Committee and Lucerne hotels will take place in the next week to work on issues resulting from the games cancellation. He also invited the FISU Media team to outline their plans for content in December to replace what would have come from the FISU Games. These plans include an online challenge for student-athletes to demonstrate how things do go on following tough situations and to see how they are planning to continue their training and development. Highlights from previous Winter Universiades on FISU.tv will also be part of the plan for December.


Lucerne 2021 Report


“Lucerne 2021 Winter Universiade has taken a dramatic turn in the wrong direction”, stated Urs Hunkeler, Managing Director of the Organising Committee. This, of course, referring to the cancellation of the FISU Games on 29 November. President of the Organising Committee, Guido Graf, echoed this sentiment indicating that it was a very difficult decision to consider cancelling, but that the Omicron variant changed conditions dramatically. The 10-day quarantines that were imposed by the Swiss government would have made welcoming participants extremely difficult. 1,577 athletes from 54 nations were expected to come to Central Switzerland.


Despite this unfortunate turn of events, President of Swiss University Sports Mike Kurt indicated that there will still be a legacy from Lucerne 2021. The planned establishment of a short track speed skating high performance centre in Zug, tied to the Speedy Cup 2021 event, is an example of this legacy. Approximately 50 projects in dual career, sports development, innovation, inspiration, and development of student sports exist to carry on the legacy from Lucerne 2021.


Chengdu 2021 FISU World University Games


Members of the organising committee outlined how far plans have come for the Chengdu 2021 FISU Games. 13 venues have been built and 36 have been renovated with some having already hosted test events. The primary areas of focus now are around running the games under pandemic prevention and control and the facilitation of travel for those attending. Additionally, promotion of the games has been underway in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Zhuhai, and at such events as the Macao International Travel Industry Expo.


Jing Zhao, FISU Deputy Director of World University Games Summer, one of the team members that is currently in Chengdu, noted “We should not only talk about the challenges but the achievements. The sports venues, competition and training, are ready.” FISU Secretary General and CEO Eric Saintrond added, “They did a fantastic job and what they present here is the best they can do to make sure the games can be held in June 2022.” He did note, however, that with no direct flights into Chengdu, getting participants to and from the bubble in which the games will be hosted is a major challenge that needs to be overcome.


Committee Reports


Next up were the FISU Committee reports. Dusan Hamar, from the Medical Commission, highlighted their involvement in upcoming events including the Chengdu 2021 FISU Games, future FISU World University Games, FISU World University Championships, and FISU University World Cups. Related to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, he noted that even with vaccines and PCR tests, there is still some risk of spreading COVID so in preparation for future events they are continuing to focus on masks, personal hygiene, and social distancing as ways to prevent possible spread.


FISU Executive Committee member Rosaura Mendez and FISU Education and Development Director Lilia Barieva spoke about progress with the Gender Equality Committee. A comprehensive review of all FISU’s activities will be undertaken to determine the level of gender equality. This will lead to a final report in 2023 which will identify best practices and recommendations. Additionally, a FISU Gender Equality Charter will be tabled in 2023 to include those recommendations with encouragement for all member federations to sign.


Barieva then outlined progress from the Development Committee on the 36 CUSF projects for 2022 in the areas of governance, education, sport events, and promotion. NUSF projects were also discussed noting that many have been put on hold through the pandemic but that there will be a call for new considerations in early 2022 for work to be done that year and into 2023.


Education Committee work was then presented by Verena Burk, FISU Senior Executive Committee Member. Leading that discussion was the fact that 121 countries participated in the 2021 International Day of University Sport (IDUS) with 842 sports, educational, and cultural activities organised. The situation for conferences and forums is a little more challenging as the Lucerne 2021 FISU World Conference has been cancelled, though three keynote webinars will be held 13-14 December. Preparations for the 2021 Chengdu FISU World Conference are on hold while the Lake Placid 2023 FISU World Conference theme of “Save Winter – the intersection of climate change and winter sports” has been approved. While the 2024 FISU World Forum has been awarded to the Croatian Academic Sports Federation and the University of Split, the Costa Rica 2022 FISU World Forum has been postponed from April to 5-9 December of 2022 to better ensure it can be held onsite.


To round out day one, FISU Director of Healthy Campus and Universities Relations, Fernando Parente spoke about the growth of Health Campus. To date, 88 universities are registered from 31 countries, with 35 certifications issued. With a goal of the programme to increase the interest of university sport leaders in the area of well-being, he remarked that additional visibility will be provided through the future partnership with UNESCO.


Day Two


FISU World University Championships and FISU University World Cups


The second day of the FISU Executive Committee meeting got underway with a report from Juan-Carlos Holgado, FISU’s Sport Director about the 2022 FISU Championships and FISU World Cups. For 2022, 22 events are confirmed in 17 countries and four continents. The first is the 2022 FISU Championship Ski Orienteering in the Czech Republic in February, and organisers continue to closely monitor the COVID-19 situation to ensure it can be held safely for all athletes and participants. For 2024, 80% of events are attributed with the recently awarded 2024 FISU Championship Sailing in Italy, the 2024 FISU World Cup Floorball in Poland, and the 2024 FISU World Cup Finswimming in Colombia.


Ekaterinburg 2022 FISU University World Cup Combat Sports


“This is a very big development in FISU’s sport programme… It’s a unique one in our history,” said FISU Acting President Leonz Eder about the 2022 FISU World Cup Combat Sports. Athletes from six sports – boxing, karate, muaythai, sambo, wrestling, and wushu – will come together to compete in the Ekaterinburg-EXPO International Exhibition Centre at the same time in September of 2022. Organising Committee CEO Alexander Chernov sees this as a very important standalone event, due to the importance of these sports in Ekaterinburg, but also notes that it will greatly help in the preparation for the Ekaterinburg 2023 FISU Games.


Treasurer Report


FISU Executive Committee Member and Treasurer Bayasgalan Danzandorj next brought FISU’s financial situation to meeting attendees. In relation to Lucerne 2021 Winter Universiade he noted, “We don’t know yet the final results but in the next few weeks we’ll know the full extent of the impacts [of the cancellation].” Additionally, he highlighted that budgeting for 2022 is currently very difficult due to the ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and uncertainty around many events and programmes. He indicated some expenses have been minimised due to reduced travel and changes to events, and that investments have recovered after some declines earlier in 2021.


Future Hosts


A look to future FISU World University Games hosts was on the agenda to conclude proceedings. First up was a report from the Lake Placid 2023 FISU Games. James McKenna, Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism CEO, spoke about venues and preparations for 2023. “Our sports venues have been brought back to international standards for the event next year,” he said. This builds on Lake Placid’s venue legacy from the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympic Games, as well as the 1972 FISU Winter Universiade. Promotion efforts have ramped up including involvement at the New York State Fair as well as the reveal of Adirondack Mac, the event’s mascot designed by university student Kristina Ingerowski. Additionally, Chief Operating Officer Ashley Walden announced that an agreement has been struck with ESPN to provide 6 hours of coverage on ESPN 2, 10 hours on ESPNU, and 130 hours of coverage on ESPN+, with TSN in Canada also showing select events.


Alexander Chernov, CEO For Ekaterinburg 2023 FISU Games, returned for his second report of the session to provide an overview of their progress. Many aspects of planning are well underway or complete, including the FISU World Conference, games security, accommodations, and medals design, as examples. Promotional activities are also underway and include the involvement of games ambassadors. David Belyavskiy, gymnastics Olympic champion from Tokyo 2020 and multiple medalist at the 2013 Summer Universiade in Kazan, and Maria Vadeeva, captain of the Russian Federation’s national women’s basketball team, are two of those ambassadors who will help promote the games and encourage participation. FISU World University Games Summer Director Marc Vandenplas emphasised how important the team in Ekaterinburg is to the preparation of the FISU Games. “We have really felt that there is a very enthusiastic team and they have succeeded in recruiting a very experienced staff,” he said.


Andrea Ippolito from the 2025 Torino FISU Games was next up and highlighted their early preparations for 2025, including the launch of their website www.wugtorino2025.com. Through the site, they are seeking candidates for key roles on the organising committee as they look to build out their staff structure. They also continue to work with the participating host locations of Torino, Bardonecchia, Pragelato, Pinerolo, and Torre Pellice to map out initial plans for the respective sport programmes. After hearing the update, FISU Acting President proudly commented, “I cannot imagine FISU without Torino,” speaking about the strong, historical connection between FISU and Torino.


New CEO of the Rhine-Ruhr 2025 FISU World University Games Stefan Kürton presented on behalf of his organisation. He said: “We believe that Rhine-Ruhr will become known as a result of this project,” noting that with 700,000 students in the region, it is a hub for academic pursuit and development. The organisation is now moving into the process of hiring key personnel and setting up the structure of the project. Key next steps are the development of the master plan, brand development and positioning, as well as stakeholder participation. “It is very early days, and we understand that we have to be on our toes for the big tasks ahead of us,” Kürton said.


To conclude day two of the FISU Executive Committee meeting, FISU Secretary General and CEO Eric Saintrond updated members on the candidatures for 2027 and 2029. Chungcheong Province in South Korea, and North Carolina in the United States have tabled bids for the FISU World University Games Summer in 2027. An online session will be held next week to continue the work with both candidates. There are currently no cities bidding for 2029 and no candidates for the winter edition of the 2027 or 2029 FISU Games, though conversations will be had with Lucerne to determine if they may consider 2027 to leverage all the work done in Central Switzerland in planning for 2021.


Written by Doug McLean