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26 February 2021 | in Summer FISU World University Games

Spotlight: Gwangju 2015 Summer Universiade

Gwangju raised the bar for the Summer Universiade by organising a near impeccable Games in 2015 that drew a record 10,822 athletes and officials from 140 countries. Gwangju became the third city from the Republic of Korea to host the Games, following in the footsteps of Muju and Jeonju, joint hosts of the 1997 Winter Universiade, and Daegu, which held the summer edition in 2003.


In the “City of Light,” as Gwangju is known, the Opening Ceremony certainly lived up to that name. The Republic of Korea’s first Major League Baseball (MLB) player with the Los Angeles Dodgers and Buffalo 1993 Summer Universiade, Park Chan Ho, and Yang Hak Seon—the first Olympic gymnastics champion from the home country—lit the Universiade flame at the Gwangju Main Universiade Stadium. This also happened to be the same stadium that was used for the 2002 FIFA World Cup, co-hosted with Japan.


The Gwangju 2015 Summer Universiade is considered as the model Universiade for venue legacies, only building four of the 69 venues from scratch. The rest of the venues used for the Games had already existed and were renovated for the Universiade, including the Athletes Village that saved organisers close to 200 billion won, or $176 million in construction costs.


The host nation captured 47 gold medals—13 more than the Russian Federation and Chinese delegations, while Japan finished in fourth on the medal tally. After 11 days of competition, the Games came to a close and the FISU flag accompanied by hosting rights was handed to the vibrant city of Taipei, who would host the world at the 2017 Summer Universiade.