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24 April 2020 | in Summer FISU World University Games

Spotlight: Remembering the Rome 1975 Summer Universiade

Take a trip back through 60 years of Universiade history. The 16th stop on the FISU history tour takes us to the historic and Italian capital city for the Rome 1975 Summer Universiade

Roma SU75 CUSI


Following the tremendous success of the Games two years earlier in Moscow, hopes were high for the Belgrade 1975 Summer Universiade, initially set to be held in the Yugoslavian city of Belgrade.


However, in December 1974, just nine months prior to the opening of the Belgrade Universiade, Yugoslavia abruptly backed out of the deal, leaving FISU in a frantic search for a new host.

Roma Official LogoOnce again in crisis mode, FISU President Primo Nebiolo made the call to take the World University Games back to his native Italy, just as he did when Lisbon, Portugal, pulled out of the hosting of the 1969 Universiade.


Yet this time Nebiolo handed the task not to two-time host city Turin, but the Italian capital of Rome. And with so little time to prepare, the eighth edition of the Universiade had to be greatly scaled back, resulting in only athletics taking place at Rome 1975 as not even Nebiolo could create the magic necessary for a full-scale Games under such a short deadline.


With only one featured sport, the Rome Universiade was also widely referred to as the world university athletics championships and was held over a brief period of four days at the Stadio Olimpico.


The quality of the competition, however, was anything but second class, as 38 nations preparing for the 1976 Montreal Olympic Games used the Universiade as a springboard toward the Summer Games.

Roma 1975 competition venuesRome's legendary Stadio Olimpico played competition host for the 8th Summer Universiade with 35 athletics events on the official programme. Today, Stadio Olimpico is still Italy's national athletics stadium.

Ten new Universiade records were set in total, with a particularly striking performance from Italian sprinter Pietro Menea, who stormed to the top of the podium in both the 100- and 200-meter events. Of the medallists at these Games – where the Soviet Union once again topped the standings – more than 20 would go on to reach the finals in their respective events in Montreal a year later.


Nebiolo did manage to gain something out of the makeshift Universiade, as FISU awarded Sofia, Bulgaria, the hosting rights for the 1977 Games and, perhaps more importantly, admitted China into its federation even before the International Olympic Committee’s inclusion of the Asian country.