Chengdu mayor Luo Qiang (R) receives the the International University Sports Federation (FISU) flag from FISU president Oleg Matytsin during the closing ceremony of the 30th Summer Universiade in Naples, Italy, July 14, 2019. (Photo: Xinhua)
Preparations for the 2021 Summer University Games in Chengdu are going smoothly and the tournament remains on schedule despite the global COVID-19 pandemic, according to senior officials from the International University Sports Federation (FISU).
"We recently had a very productive virtual meeting with the mayor and vice-mayor of Chengdu, where we discussed all aspects of preparation. The Chengdu organizing committee presented an excellent video that detailed the progress of construction and renovation of all major venues including the athletes' village," FISU secretary general Eric Saintrond told Xinhua.
"Everything is on track and I must say that they returned to work faster than we had expected. With the personal attention of the mayor, preparations will continue well."
After the postponement of the Tokyo Olympic Games to 2021, the Chengdu Summer University Games are now scheduled to open just 10 days after the closing ceremony of the Olympics, and the FISU expects some student-athletes to compete in Chengdu immediately following Tokyo.
"2021 promises to be a great summer of international multisport competition of the very highest level. Many Olympians are also World University Games participants, and they now have the opportunity to prepare for two major multisport competitions in Asia in the same timeframe," said FISU president Oleg Matytsin.
"The change of dates of the Olympic Games will in fact allow some student-athletes who are already in Asia to move to Chengdu after Tokyo," said Saintrond. "I'm sure many participants of the World University Games will look forward to testing themselves against recent Olympians."
The FISU is to launch a Healthy Campus Label project on May 12, in response to the challenge the COVID-19 pandemic has brought to university sports.
"It has undoubtedly been a challenge. We had to cancel many events at all levels, including continental and national level tournaments because nearly all member federations, continental and national, had to stop their activities. Moreover, most campuses are closed, and student-athletes have not been able to practice and prepare for competition," said Saintrond.
"However, at this time we are going ahead with the FISU Healthy Campus Label project, which will officially be launched on May 12. It is the right timing, because by the time universities come on board, it will be time for the start of the new academic year."
The FISU has also started looking at alternative plans for educational events like forums and conferences.
"This year's FISU Forum will be held online and the annual FISU Volunteer Leaders Academy will also be held virtually," Saintrond added. "We are also looking at holding technical meetings online in the future, which will reduce the number of overseas trips and consequently, our carbon footprint and use of resources."
The COVID-19 pandemic has provided an opportunity for sports organizations to review the values of sports, according to Matytsin and Saintrond.
"It has reminded us of core values that are also the values of sport: teamwork, fairness and effort. It is important to remember this as we return to normal, and plan the future," said Matytsin.
Saintrond added, "It is important for all sports organizations and international federations to review the way major sports events are organized - with respect to sustainability and costs involved. This challenging time has provided an opportunity for all of us to see what is essential and what can be changed."