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17 November 2019 | in FISU, Winter FISU World University Games, Summer FISU World University Games, Meetings

Universiade host cities highlight morning session of 36th General Assembly

TORINO – Future Universiade host cities played the prelude to the 36th FISU General Assembly election yesterday in the birthplace of the event.


With the rustle-free quiet of final reports and assembly materials replaced by digital tablets as a move to event sustainability, the Summer and Winter Universiade 2021 and 2023 hosting cities had an attuned audience inside historic Lingotto Congress Centre. A former downtown FIAT factory complete with a racetrack on its roof added to the assembly  ambiance for attendees.


The university sports world had its attention on Switzerland, China, United States, and Russia with the soon-to-be-elected sports leaders set up for four-year terms that will cover Universiades set for Lucerne and Chengdu in 2021, and Lake Placid and Ekaterinberg in 2023.





Having successfully hosted international Olympic qualifier races for rowing for years, Lucerne is no stranger to elite sport. Still, Lucerne 2021 organisers view the Winter Universiade as a way to showcase Central Switzerland to a greater global audience.


From the towering heights of the Stoos Ski Resort that will be the competition home for gravity-assisted skiers to the Universiade village concept that will ring the banks of the city’s waterfront, event managing director Urs Hunkeler emphasized the central role hospitality plays for the Winter Universiade 2021 host city.


“Lucerne is a compact city with 100,000 residents. Tourism is our economic engine, and our hospitality is was we are renowned for,” Hunkeler said.


With just over 400 days until the Universiade flame makes its way to Lucerne to start the games, Hunkeler outlined the event's promotion plan. This marketing department aims to create significant buzz within the six Swiss cantons that will hold sports events from 21-31 January 2021. 


Hunkeler also noted that ski orienteering had been approved as an optional sport, and that Stoos had received a resounding green light as the alpine skiing competition venue for the 30th Winter Universiade by the FISU Executive Committee earlier this year.


Strengthening the bond between the sport event and Swiss universities, students competed in the event’s mascot design contest. On 21 January 2020, organisers will unveil the winning mascot as a way to mark one year to go before the 30th Winter Universiade.


Hunkeler ended his presentation similarly to how he began it, that Central Switzerland is a place of hospitableness and friendliness. 


“Welcome to the Alps. Welcome to Switzerland. Welcome to winter sports,” Hunkeler said. “We welcome you all to Lucerne. We will do our best to make you feel at home.”





If the Winter Universiade in 2021 takes place in a small city in a mountainous region, that year's Summer Universiade turns its attention eastward for a visit to one of the world’s megacities: Chengdu, home of 16-million inhabitants.


And right from the start, the Chengdu style has been to go big. A case in point came on the final day of Summer Universiade 2019 as the future event host put on a coordinated marketing campaign title “an invitation from the giant panda’s hometown.” The one-off media event garnered more than 3,000 news articles with an audience of over one hundred million readers. 


Experienced sports leader Yang Fei kicked off the comprehensive on the operational readiness and ongoing marketing communication plans, Fei turned over the presentation to Wang Pingjiang, Chengu’s vice mayor and director general of public security.


“Welcome to Chengdu, welcome to our city,” Pingjiang said to begin his report.


Together, the Chengdu duo covered everything in full detail, from financial and auditing to the athletes’ village.


“For the next steps, we will pay further visits to some of the top directors of China who has vast experience in directing for multi-sport events and major international celebrations,” Fei said. “Much of our creative plan will be finalized before the Chinese New Year of 2020.”





Drawing on the flexibility and contrast of the Universiade concept, in 2023 the Winter Universiade turns to a village of 2,500 residents to modernize these Games.


Much like FISU itself, Lake Placid has proud sporting legacies, with the small village in the Adirondack Mountains celebrating 100 years of international winter sports events. Having hosted its first global sports event in 1919 with the ice skating world championships, the locale has gone on to hold two Olympic Winter Games (1932 and 1980) and, soon, two Winter Universiades.


It’s the 2023 Games, though, that the Lake Placid sports leaders say is vital to the region. “It’s the 2023 World University Games that are going to help propel this global sports legacy,” James McKenna said. “From new gondolas to new nordic ski trails being cut to additional snowmaking machines being installed and frost rails for our ski jumps, Lake Placid is going all out for this event.” 


McKenna also noted that one of the event venues, Paul Smiths College, has just signed on with USA Nordic to be the home of dual-career studies for America’s re-emerging nordic combined and ski jumping teams. 


McKenna turned the presentation over to Lake Placid Mayor Craig Randall.


“We’re all very, very honoured to be standing here,” Randall said. “Yes, we are a very small and mountainous community. But sport is in our blood. It’s a way of life, especially with our young residents. As a community and a region, we are ready to go; we are ready for you.”



FISU Executive Committee candidate-elect Delise O’Meally gave the final presentation push to the federation’s national membership for the 2023 Games.


“I encourage you to come to Lake Placid, I encourage you to engage and built relationships with our universities,” O’Meally said. “During the Games, we know the atmosphere will be electric, but together we can also really grow the FISU brand in the United States and the Americas.


“And Jamaica, I know we won’t have the bobsled at the Games,” said O’Meally, a Jamaican-American, “but I encourage to come compete anyways.”




 Ekaterinburg successfully hosted competitions from the 2018 FIFA World Cup one year before earning the right to hold the Summer Universiade in 2023. (Image: Ekateringburg 2023)

On the afternoon before the beginning of the Napoli 2019 Summer Universiade, Ekaterinburg already had reason to celebrate. After having hosted the 2018 FIFA World Cup matches, the city beside the Ural Mountains continues to grow as a go-to hub for hosting international sports events.


After an opening from Anna Kopenkina, Ekaterinburg 2023’s director general Alexander Chernov presented the developments since the city earned its attribution.


“We are ten times bigger than Lucerne, but we’re ten times smaller than Chengdu.” Chernov said to start his presentation. “We are the meeting point between Europe and Asia; we call this the industrial heart of Russia.”


With 24 venues ready for competition, the city is building nine new sites for the games, which will include the optional sports of rugby sevens, sambo, and boxing for 2023 Games competitors.



But the Ekaterinburg experience will be much more than this. The 2023 organisers presented their plans to a new first in student-sport history by setting themselves to host a Cultural Universiade alongside the sports competitions. Ekaterinburg organisers estimate that 500 participants will take part, with countries capped at bringing no more than eight Cultural Universiade competitors.


“We want to turn an industrial city into a leading performing arts centre of the world,” Kopenkina said.


“Can we do this?” Kopenkina asked. “Yes we can.” 


FISU President Matytsin expressed his confidence as well, telling the federation’s assembly members, “I believe Ekaterinburg is the right place to start this Cultural Universiade during the new World University Games.”