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13 July 2020 | in Summer FISU World University Games

Ekat 2023 Director General discusses preparations for FISU World University Games

recut chernov


With just over one year since Ekaterinburg’s successful candidacy to host the 2023 summer edition of the FISU World University Games, Alexander Chernov, General Director of the Executive Direction of the Games, gave an interview to RIA Novosti. The conversation follows.



Tell me honestly, how difficult is it to prepare for the big event of 2023 when everyone around is thinking only about how to survive this year?


During these almost four months of remote mode work, we have done much more in preparation for the Games than we would have done without it. In particular, what we planned to do in January next year was prepared in March. Now we are finishing the layout of strategic plans, which in theory should have been developed in the middle of the following year. Yes, the time is hard, but it will pass. And we will stay with those developments that we have. 



Did you think at least for a second that the Games could be cancelled or postponed due to all this confusion? 


I think that a very serious revision of all the orders, regulations and agreements in the sports world is coming moreover before us is the FISU World University Games 2021 in Chengdu. Moving the Olympic Games to Tokyo (one year later, to 2021) automatically nibbles off a piece of the audience, attention, sponsors, partners, and competitive interest from the Games. 



According to the costs of the FISU World University Games in Ekaterinburg, different numbers are called, but they are all close to the sum of 80 billion rubles (about 1 billion Euro). Can this figure change, take into account all the latest news?


I hope that if this figure changes, then only in a smaller direction. Over the last year, as we received the right to hold the Games, we did not depart from a single stated figure. We are expanding the program, changing facilities, changing the location of the village. But we remain in those declared parameters that were announced at the FISU Executive Committee in Naples and confirmed in Torino. I hope that stability and responsibility for the obligations assumed will remain, and we will not go beyond 80 billion rubles. 


The big story is the debut of the cultural component of the FISU World University Games. Tell us, who was the initiator? 


It was a joint initiative of the Governor Evgeniy Kuyvashev and FISU President Oleg Matytsin. It became one of the drivers of a positive attitude towards our candidacy by members of the FISU Executive Committee who voted for us. The humanistic component of student life is not only a sport; it is much more comprehensive. In any sport, there is ultimately a place for art and creativity.


After a very long discussion, we decided to fix on the widely interpreted versions of “demo disciplines.” It is vocals, and absolutely any, even if it is a choral singing. These are all types of stage movement under the general concept of dance. From hip-hop to tap dance, from ballet pas to ethnic images of animals, and so on. 


And, in the end, the third one is the ability of painters to express themselves. We offer creative people from different continents to create in plastic, metal, stone, wood, glass and so on. Of course, on a given topic: this is culture, education and sports.



Let’s get some facts. How many participants do you expect in 2023, taking into account the cultural component in the programme? 



We expect 11 thousand participants in total. These are athletes and the members of delegations.



Is the volunteer recruitment program ready? How many people will you need? 


We anticipate around twelve thousand. We are dealing with this issue now. Not all the objects are approved. When there is a full picture, we will understand the exact number of volunteers. I think the exact figure will be known before the end of this year. We will write down how many we will take from the regions and how many we will invite from abroad. 



When will a full picture be clear?


In late September, the FISU Executive Committee will be held in Ekaterinburg. Everyone will come to watch our preparations. Some final decisions on the number of teams will be made there, which will significantly facilitate our preparation. It will become clear how many additional halls, equipment, vehicles and so on will be needed for the organisation of basketball, volleyball and other game tournaments.



This autumn, a sports council under the President of the Russian Federation will be held in Ekaterinburg. Will it be dedicated to the Games 2023?


Yes, the main, very large part of the meeting will be devoted to our competitions. Still, this is the largest sporting event of the four-year period, which will be held in our country. 



You said before that the location of the village was changing in the process. Tell me why.


Initially, we had three places that were primarily considered for the village. It was not just like that: after all, it is a complex construction, which must meet a huge number of parameters. One of the options, for example, could stylishly and logically expand the urban environment: a new district could appear on the shore of the lake with a very interesting configuration. But the Novokoltsovo district was approved – it is not far from the airport and next to the International exhibition centre.


This decision made it possible to look at the whole concept of the village from the other side. Because, let me remind you, in the exhibition complex we conduct six spots. The village will be across the road. You know, I was at the 15 Olympic Games, and in my memory, it’s never been such that athletes went to competitions on foot. They always had to get by transport. 


In our country, part of the athletes will walk across the road. And some types of competitions will take place right in the village because the ultramodern aquatics centre will be built there. This will fantastically ease our logistics and the number of other organisational issues. This decision on the location of the village, which was made by the Governor of the Sverdlovsk region, is a diamond in the crown for organising our summer university games. 



At what stage is the logo selection process now? 


Almost 30 works from various agencies were sent, both federal and regional. The jury is still working on choosing the best. I think that two favourites will become known within a week, after that the jury will make a final decision. 


Next, we will return the winning logo to the agency that offered it, with certain recommendations for refinement. After making adjustments, we will conclude a contract for the development of corporate identity, a brand book and so on. Also, we have already decided on three mascot-finalists. I will not say who it is, but you will know them very soon. Believe me, all the finalists are very cool. 



Is the Torch relay planned? 


Of course. We are trying to distinguish ourselves from others somehow and there will be one unifying sign: the fire will run. But we came up with such a format when the fire runs simultaneously all over the planet. We do not set ourselves the goal to visit all the countries, to run the longest route, or to surprise with some outrageous numbers. But we will try to convert somehow some of the values that should be inherent in our Games related to the education, culture, sports and friendship of young people around the planet into torch itineraries.



The Summer Universiade 2013 in Kazan helped set an incredibly high bar for the event. Is your task to make it brighter and better than it was there? 


I take off my hat to the Kazan guys. I know many of them personally and some are working in our team now. Most importantly, they did all this for the first time: by that time, the country simply did not have such an experience. Since then, we have had two Universiades, the FIFA World Cup and the Olympic Winter Games. 


I think Russia is now simply a unique country in the world in terms of experience gained in hosting major sporting events. The result of that was the emergence of a considerable number of professionals in various fields.


And now we can use this unique source. This luxury, among other things, imposes a rather strict requirement: we simply do not have the right to do poorly, having access to such a resource. There was no such resource in Kazan: they did everything by touch, but they managed just brilliantly. For all the years I heard only the highest reviews about the Games in Kazan. 


Time has changed, the situation has changed, and perceptions have changed. We are not going to compete with that Universiade for any quantitative indicators. But we are not going to downgrade the level that Russia has set in the last decade in organising sports events.