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03 September 2020 | in Winter FISU World University Games

FISU Secretary General says new Lucerne 2021 dates must be decided by October

After FISU announced the postponement of the Lucerne 2021 Winter Universiade – originally scheduled for January 2021 – FISU Secretary General-CEO Eric Saintrond says the new dates should be agreed upon within the next two months.


FISU SG EricSaintrondQ1. Let’s start with the decision itself. The decision to postpone the Lucerne 2021 Winter Universiade was obviously a really difficult one. How was it taken, who all were involved?

ES: Yes, it was not an easy decision. All the partners of the FISU World University Games were involved in the decision process. The Organising Committee held meetings with the Swiss Confederation and Canton representatives, Swiss University Sports, Swiss Olympic, and of course with us, at FISU. The discussion started two months ago, and we agreed on a timeline for the different steps before announcing the decision to not hold the games in January 2021 and evaluate a postponement.


Q2. To what extent were the International Federations of winter sports and National University Sports Federations consulted or involved in this decision? Was there any resistance to postponement?

ES: Due to the pandemic, most of the International Federations had to cancel their events for safety reasons. We have spoken to the IFs as well as our member federations. The potential alternate dates have to be carefully analysed and discussed with all parties. It is not easy. Next year does not offer many options, as we are now talking about the end of 2021. Regarding 2022, it is the year of the Winter Olympics and the International Federations will be committed to their preparations for the Olympic Games. The cancellation of sports events has affected all IFs worldwide. Therefore, we have to manage this as well as possible.


Q3. So now that the decision has been taken, what are the next steps? What are you working on?


ES: We already have a team working on the evaluation of the potential postponement. We will involve all partners - including our media partners like Eurosport, to make sure we have the best proposal for both Lucerne and FISU. 


Q4. How did FISU deal with the repeated cancellations of FISU events in 2020? What is the financial fallout of a major decision such as this?

ES: Postponing our events, and especially one of our flagship events, by several months or a year also means keeping staff and services running for an extended period, which is an additional cost. The plan for the accommodation has to be reviewed and new formats may bring other expenses as well.

The postponement of the FISU World University Games will create additional expenses and obligations for the Organising Committee as the Business Plan and Master Plan have to be reviewed. Regarding FISU, we will have to re-start the process of registrations which was already closed for the team sports.


Q5. How closely did you work with the Swiss federal authorities and the six Cantons on all developments?

ES: Leonz Eder, Coordinator of Lucerne 2021 Winter Universiade and FISU First Vice-President, was present in all meetings organised with the Swiss Federal authorities and worked closely with them throughout.


Q6. For the athletes, how will this postponement impact them, in terms of selection and preparation?

ES: As we have eligibility rules in FISU, an athlete might not be accepted one year later because of the age limit or their student status. Moreover, if they are part of an Olympic team, they might not be available to take part in our event.


Q7. How does this affect your sponsors and partners, such as the Host Broadcaster signed for the event?

ES: Sponsors have already delivered the Value-In-Kind and we will have to store them for a couple of months. Our partners (sponsors and broadcasters) will adapt to the new schedule. FISU does not receive any revenues from broadcasting rights, which means that we are not dependent on broadcasting rights like some other federations might be.


Q8. What is the deadline to decide on a new date? And when is the likely period for the postponed event?

ES: We believe that the deadline to decide on a new date cannot be later than 31 October 2020. Regarding the postponement period, this has to be carefully analysed and discussed with all parties, it is too early to give a reply today.


Q9. What has happened in the past when the Winter Universiade has had to be cancelled or rescheduled?

ES: We did have some issues in the past. For example, in Granada (2015) they could not get permission to build the Nordic Ski venues, so we had to move Nordic Skiing and Biathlon competitions to Slovakia. In the end, we had a long Universiade that lasted several days longer than usual. In 2013, we had to cancel the Winter Universiade in Maribor and organise the event in Trentino instead, which eventually turned out to be a great success.