“We have a project before, and a legacy after,” International University Sport Federation (FISU) president Claude-Louis Gallien said to a large press crowd in the Gwangju Press Centre.
The 28th Universiade gets underway tomorrow with a spectacular opening ceremony, and Louis-Gallien said that Korea is well suited to hosting major events. The 1997 Winter Universiade, in Muju, and the 2003 Summer Universiade, in Daegu, were both highly successful.
Louis-Gallien declared that the FISU “were not only organisers, but project builders. We have to develop a project and idea before we choose a host city.
“This is an opportunity to build a platform for sport in Asia, and it is an ability for students to have a voice for democracy, liberty and creating a better world during the Universiade. In 1980, students in Gwangju wanted to break away from dictation, making Gwangju an ideal platform.”
Approximately 8,500 athletes will compete across 21 sports, and Louis-Gallien’s statement that it’s not just about the games, and about everything that’s prepared before and afterwards, exemplifies the spirit of the Games. More than 150 hours of TV coverage, thanks to Eurosport, will be telecast, along with FISU live streaming, giving competitors an important opportunity to show to the world that they have the skills to take it to the Olympic level.
The third edition of the FISU Young Reporters Program continues to rapidly grow the media attention on the games, along with the aforementioned TV networks and live streaming on the FISU website.
CEO Eric Saintrond; “We are very proud of this (Young Reporters Program), but unfortunately we cannot select more than 12.” There were 131 applicants pooled around the world for the opportunity.
While the rapid spread of Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) sent an initial scare through some camps, FISU Chief Medical Officer Larry Rink says the Gwangju medical team have done a stellar job in ensuring the Universiade can go ahead without concerns.
“This is the fourth straight day without a newly reported case. Our job is to be sure these games are run safely; there are still concerns about MERS, but I can guarantee we will have a games without incident,” said Rink.
As the minutes tick by, the full scale of the Universiade project shows its stripes. On the students competing, Louis-Gallien stated that they are not just competing on the field, they are leaders.
“The Universiade is a great way to develop better leaders than those who are currently ruling; we want them to construct their own age, having being built to succeed by older people. Champions today, leaders tomorrow. They write the legacy of the games.”
Such is the diversity of the 150 plus nations attending the Universiade, the participation cultures are vastly different, helping to bring Gwangju, “The City of Light”, into full colours.
There will be no North Korean team to attend the Universiade, having officially pulled out today. Preparations were put in place to make it possible for athletes to participate, but did not follow through.
The Opening Ceremony will be held on Friday at the Gwangju World Cup Stadium.