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06 June 2019 | in Summer FISU World University Games

The Universiade Flame runs through the home of university sport

129 competing nations, 222 events in 18 sports, 9,000 athletes and officials, and one flame representing the university spirit 

LAUSANNE — The flame for the 30th Summer Universiade brought students, sportspersons and sports leaders to the home of university sport today.


After it’s start Tuesday in Torino, it was fitting that the second stop of the 29 day Flame of the Universiade Relay should begin at the FISU headquarters on the University of Lausanne campus.


Honouring the roots of modern competitive sport, the lighting of the flame took place in the hall of  Jean Petitjean, a place highlighting the efforts started by the father of international university sport.


FISU Secretary General - CEO Eric Saintrond paid homage to Petitjean in his opening remarks and how he organised the first ‘World Student Games’ in Paris, in 1923.


“Jean Petitjean was an emblematic figure of university sport. As a professor and president of the Paris University Club he instilled inside his university sports centre a mission to make the world a better place through sport.  This is one of the pillars of university sports, and its from within the facilities of this sports club that the World University Sports Championship, were organised. This event brought together student-athletes from the Eastern and Western blocks of the world for the first time since World War II. This both was and is still is today a great sporting moment and the origin of the first Universiade.



“Tomorrow, this torch will carry the flame onto Milano en route to Napoli to bring together sports, culture and fun," added Saintrond. "I’m talking about fun because that’s really something makes university sports so special and sets it apart.”


Taking the stage after Saintrond was University of Lausanne Vice-Rector, Benoît Frund, and Napoli 2019’s institutional director, Annapaolo Voto.


“Italy and the whole Campania region are seeing a period of great international interest and relevance as students from 129 countries are coming to Napoli to celebrate this unique event, whose main themes are integration and unity” Voto said. “This is a very unique and exciting moment.”


After the Universiade lantern lit the torch, Swiss sailor and University of Lausanne graduate Fiona Testuz was the first to hoist the flame above  the grounds of her alma mater. Ms. Testuz handed off to Davide Tizzano, a two-time Olympic champion rower for Italy and America’s Cup competitor. Tizzano then passed the torch to three-time Swiss Olympian and canoe-slalom world champion Mike Kurt.

 Three-time Summer Olympian Mike Kurt of Switzerland with the torch. As the newly-elected president of Swiss University Sports, Kurt is investigating ways to unite the Swiss academic system through the 2021 Winter Universiade torch relay.

1980 Olympic boxing champion Patricia Oliva carried the torch to the University of Lausanne freshman Reto Pfund, the setter to the reigning two-time Swiss national volleyball championship team.


The moment carried special meaning for the former light welterweight champion of the world. “It’s such an honour for me to carry this torch, because, since the ancient Greek times, this torch is the symbol of peace,” Oliva said. “Since the start, messengers were going into all the cities of Greece to announce the start of the Games, a time when all the wars would stop so that the Games could begin.”


From Lausanne, the Universiade Flame will make its way to Milano next Monday. The Lausanne torch relay stop was proceeded by Tuesday’s lighting of the Universiade Flame from the Universiade cauldron in Torino, the start of a 29 day, two-country tour of the university spirit.


The relay will culminate at the well-loved and once-worn Stadio San Paulo to open the event. A cathedral of sport in Napoli, the stadium has been revitalised in anticipation to hosting the opening ceremonies and athletics events of the 30th Summer Universiade.