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Красноярская универсиада 2019 года

2-12 MARCH 2019

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Countdown to winter universiade 2019

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Oleg Matytsin: "Flexibility is key FISU host city success"  

President of the International University Sports Federation (FISU) Oleg Matytsyn told about the past Winter Universiade 2019, the principles of the new venues construction, the university sport and the forthcoming games in Napoli and Lake Placid. The column of the author was published in the Sport Intern, the International Inside Sports Newsletter.

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This year, the world of international university sport is celebrating the 60th anniversary of the Universiade. Yesterday, we lit the flame in Turin, it will go to Napoli to be a part of the competitions of the Summer Universiade 2019 linking our past, present and future.

With the Summer and Winter Universiades taking place every two years, with dozens of World University Championships in the intervening years, and with new events starting, FISU knows better than most the challenges of maintaining a healthy network of host cities.

FISU has long appreciated the principle of building new venues only when necessary and only when that building corresponds to the development plans of a city or region.  Thus, during the Krasnoyarsk 2019 Winter University, the city underwent a significant amount of new building.  But this was entirely aligned with the Siberian city’s ambitions to become a centre of excellence for international winter sports competitions. It is an ambition already being fulfilled, as world cups and world championships line up to be enjoy the excellent conditions there.

 
In Napoli, consistent with the host’s sporting traditions, there is already a wide array of competition infrastructure.  There was no need to build the kind of accommodation that would usually feature as a Universiade athletes’ village, as this summer the athletes will live in cruise ships.
 
Certain venues in Napoli have been renovated and in this area of renovation  we believe there will also be a particularly powerful story around the Lake Placid 2023 Winter Universiade. The brightest days of some of the 1980 Olympic venues started to fade and a number of the facilities no longer met international federation norms for elite competition. Thanks to the work already started, former glories are already being restored.
 
Having a bid process  that feels more like an invitation than a competition has been key to FISU’s success,  as has flexibility around format. The chance for host cities to choose optional sports has long been a feature of the Universiade. And this year’s debut of the University World Cup - Football in Jinjiang, China will see FISU further embrace a model whereby teams represent not their countries, but their universities.
 
When including international football competitions into the program of Summer Universiades, we build on the successful introduction of our University World Cup concept, which started with 3x3 Basketball in 2015.  Competitions like the NCAA basketball tournament and its famous Final Four have amply demonstrated how university brands can cross into the sporting mainstream. We have no doubt that this model can successfully complement the more traditional approach of the Universiades.
 
A strong focus on social legacy has also been vital to FISU’s host city successes.  Sport’s potential to contribute to a better society has never felt more important, and universities have never been more pivotal in popularization of sports. Previously, students used to play much sports and do much physical activity. But physical education has been in decline for some years now, as schools feel increasing pressure to deliver on the academic results by which they are so often ranked.
 
In many developed countries, only a small percentage of students now begin their time at university with a regular practise of team sport. Physical activity habits have declined too, as fewer and fewer children walk, cycle or skateboard to school.
 
University sport alone cannot reverse these declines, but we are certainly determined to play as big a part as we can.  Universities play a critical role in the life of our young people.  It is while at university that they independently develop habits that can last a lifetime.  And with our Healthy Campus initiative, FISU is already exploring the ways it can ensure that these habits can best involve the regular practise of sport and a generous amount of physical activity, as part of a balanced daily lifestyle.  And it is important that sport and physical activity not be confined to just one dedicated part of the day of the week, too.  This is a lesson we have taken even to our heart at our new offices in the Synathlon on the UNIL campus in Lausanne, with sit / stand desks for every staff member.
 
We are convinced that the long-term success of the entire sports sector is dependent on ensuring wide and deep participation. Sure, sport will always be attractive as a spectacle.  But to derive all of sport’s benefits, sport must be practised. And ideally, it should be practised often!
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