The Universiade aka The World University Games is the second largest multi-sport event in the world after the Olympics. The Universiade has two main events as the “Summer Universiade” & the “Winter Universiade”. Both Universiades are held once every two years with over 10,000 participants from 150+ countries. Summer Universiade is not just a sporting event but also cultural combination of intellectuals and their stunning sports performances. Winning the Universiade is undoubtedly the ultimate goal of every university sportsman & sportswoman. It is organized by the International University Sports Federation (FISU) and the last summer Universiade was won by Japan with a total of 102 medals including 37 gold medals.
The Universiade currently includes 15 compulsory sports and up to 3 optional sports can be added from the FISU recognized Sports list as the preference of the hosting nation. The 2019 World University Games (Summer Universiade) will take place from 3-14 July 2019 in Naples, Italy celebrating its 60th birthday this summer.
The last summer Universiade was held in Chinese Taipei, Taiwan and the next summer Universiade will be held in 2021 in Chengdu, China. The last winter Universiade was held in Krasnoyarsk, Russia and the next winter Universiade will be held in 2021 in Lucerne, Switzerland.
Difference between World University Games (The Universiade) & World University Championships
These two events are the most important sporting events in the university sports arena and both tournaments are organized by the International University Sports Federation (FISU). The main difference between World University Games & World University Championships is that, World University Championships are held as single sport competitions and World University Games is a much bigger multisport festival. These single sports competitions of World University Championship are a huge opportunity for the cities and universities to host a major international sports event with a minimum cost and complexity. According to the FISU, in 2018, 32 stand-alone World University Championship events were organized all around the world. As the FISU puts it “Having the summer and Winter Universiades every other year was not enough for university sport competitors and fans. With this in mind, FISU launched the World University Championship series in 1963…The Championships celebrated their 50th anniversary in 2013.”
FISU only allows a total number of 18 sports to be played in the Universiade (World University Games). Therefore, the World University Championships is the gateway for new sports and formats to make their way into the Universiade. This allows FISU to experiment with international sport federations to enhance sports delivery and innovation. So far there has been World University Championships for more than 45 sports in history.
History of Universiade
At the start of the 20th century, a Frenchman named “Jean Petitjean” had the vision to organize a “University Olympic Games” but it was not successful up until 1923 when the first International Universities Championships was held by Confederation Internationale des Etudiants (CIE). This was renamed in 1924 as the “Summer Student World Championships” and two further editions were held later in 1927 and 1928. With some more changes in the format and name this event was held for another couple of times until its final edition in 1947.
After the formation of FISU on 1 January 1949, FISU-organized inaugural Universiade was held in 1959 and the event became a truly global one, with the inclusion of Brazil, Japan and the United States among the competing nations. The increased participation ultimately led to the establishment of the Universiade as the primary global student sport championship. Italy has hosted the Universiade more times than any other country with Japan been the 2nd. Today the Universiade has progressively risen to World Class in scale and standard. Today, FISU connects the academic world with sports by hosting a number of educational events – conferences, forums and seminars along with the sporting events. Something extraordinary about this event is that many of the student-athletes get kick-start to their international athletic careers in the Universiade.
United States holds the record of most number of summer Universiade medals with over 1340+ medals including 501 golds and Russia hold the record of most number of winter Universiade medals with over 570+ medals including 208 golds. China & Russia hold the second & third places of most number of all-time summer Universiade medals respectively and the “Soviet Union” & South Korea hold the second & third places of most number of all-time winter Universiade medals respectively.
Specialties of 30th Summer Universiade Napoli 2019
One of the specialties in 2019 event is that, the list of compulsory sports will be expanded with Archery becoming part of the program and Badminton will become a compulsory sport in 2021. Including coaches and officials over 8,000 participants are expected in total at the 2019 Games. Starting from 3rd July 2019, 5971 athletes from 112 countries will compete in 222 events across 18 sports to be the champions of university sports. This year, Saudi Arabia is sending female student-athletes to a Universiade for the first time, while Kosovo is making its Universiade debut. There are a lot of Rio 2016 Olympians hoping to get the gold in Naples and make it a motivation for the next year’s big event (Olympics) in Tokyo. According to the Olympic official website, with 18 sports on the schedule, more traditional events at the Olympics will not be contested in Italy. For example, the longest athletics race will be the half-marathon, in place of a full marathon.
Key Facts and Figures about the Summer Universiade
- The largest global multi-sports event for student-athletes
- 12 days of sports competitions
- More than 10,000 student-athletes and officials from over 150 countries
- 15 compulsory sports and up to 3 optional sports
- Broadcasted to more than 100 countries, drawing over 300 million viewers
- In 2003, the “Daegu” Summer Universiade saw a record 174 countries compete in the Republic of Korea. Ten years later, the Kazan Summer Universiade drew a record 11,759 participants to this Russian city.
Written by : Isuru Pamuditha