The FISU Executive Committee met virtually on Thursday 8 October; the second meeting for the new executive that was elected in November 2019, for the 2019-2023 term. While the meeting in February focused on a review of 2019, this meeting focused on charting the current and future course.
LAUSANNE, Switzerland – The President of the International University Sports Federation (FISU) Oleg Matytsin, opened the FISU Executive Committee meeting by thanking the entire FISU family for keeping the energy of university sports up through the COVID-19 lockdown, for continuing to develop the FISU programme and preparing for the main events for the next few years.
“The pandemic is not yet at its end,” said Matytsin. “And so, we have to continue to cooperate in a more efficient and effective way. This online format has proved to be effective and has helped us organise our Steering Committee meetings in order to be able to make several important decisions on time.”
The FISU President also thanked the Steering Committee as well as FISU staff, led by Secretary General-CEO Eric Saintrond, for ensuring that the work of the global university sports movement continued through the pandemic.
Report of the President and the Steering Committee
The FISU President then presented the report from the Steering Committee.
“Along with our partners such as the other International Federations of sport, our National University Sports Federations (NUSFs) and Continental University Sports Federations (CUSFs), as well as universities, we have been able to continue working according to our Global Strategy 2027,” said Matytsin. "We have tried to normalise the process as much as possible. Unfortunately, we had to cancel or postpone most of our events for this year, other than the FISU World Forum and the FISU Volunteer Leaders Academy (FVLA) that were held in an online format. For this, I thank the respective Organising Committees in Budapest and Kazan, respectively.”
“I believe we have a bright future, because we already have candidates for the 2025 editions of the FISU World University Games, and even later editions,” he added, before handing over to Treasurer Bayasgalan Danzandorj for his bi-annual report.
FISU Treasurer's Report
The FISU Treasurer Bayasgalan Danzandorj reported the current finances of the organisation and also mentioned that financial assistance was given to the National University Sports Federations (NUSFs) whose World University Championship events had been cancelled in 2020.
Danzandorj also explained that Continental University Sports Federations (CUSFs) were given the opportunity to adapt their projects for 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, even as FISU maintained the same general budgetary allocations pledged to them.
FISU Secretary-General's Report
The major challenge in the past six months was the management of the COVID-19 crisis and its impact on the work and functioning of FISU, said FISU Secretary General-CEO Eric Saintrond, as he presented his report. Saintrond explained to the Executive Committee, the steps that were taken in accordance with the requirements of the Swiss Confederation and the Canton de Vaud for the management of the FISU staff and offices.
On the FISU events front, Saintrond spoke about the cancellation of almost the entire World University Championship season except Speed Skating (held in March) and Mind Sports (scheduled for late October). FISU’s postponed sports events also include the 2020 University World Cup 3X3 Basketball as well as the World Univeristy Games in Lucerne, originally scheduled for January 2021.
“The decision was really done the right way,” stressed Saintrond. “We constantly spoke to all the Organising Committees throughout and they were on board when the decision of cancellation was taken.”
Despite the pandemic situation, the FISU Secretary General expressed his satisfaction at the successful launch of the important FISU Healthy Campus project. "In May, we launched the FISU Healthy Campus project, which now has around 40 universities on board," he said. "We have very important and influential universities that are part of this programme."
Eric Saintrond also underlined the learnings from the COVID-19 period, including the possibility of replacing many inspection visits with virtual meetings.
“We will look at less travel in the future,” he said. “It is the right direction for the development of sustainability in FISU.”
FISU Education Events
Verena Burk, Chair of the FISU Education Committee presented the successful 2020 FISU World Forum that was held online due to the pandemic.
“We had shorter sessions so that everyone around the world could participate,” said Burk. “And we ended up with impressive facts and figures, including 1400 registered participants.”
Regarding next steps, Verena Burk said the FISU Education Committee will use this year’s experience to adapt the format and protocol for future education events, which will be more hybrid in nature – physical events with online features that allow more people around the world to participate.
The dates for the next FISU World Forum to be held in Costa Rica were confirmed to be 8-12 April 2022. The 2021 FISU Volunteer Leaders Academy will be held over two sessions as was done this year, with an online introductory session on 19-20 June 2021 and then the main programme in Kazan, Russia, from 8-14 September 2021.
FISU Healthy Campus
FISU Healthy Campus & Universities Director Fernando Parente announced that forty (40) universities have now officially come on board the FISU Healthy Campus programme that was launched in May 2020. The universities represent a student body of about 600,000 students from 30 countries, spanning five continents.
“We are working to reach our target number of eighty universities by the end of 2020,” said Parente. “But as you know this current situation is not normal. Universities are dealing with the pandemic, many are still struggling to open their sports facilities.”
FISU Sports Events
FISU World University Championships and University World Cups
Marian Dymalski, Chair of the International Technical Committee for FISU World University Championships expressed his appreciation for the fact that the World University Championship Mind Sports had been switched to an online format, scheduled to be held later in October, in a year when most of the Championships calendar had to be cancelled.
“I urge all my colleagues in national federations to register their participants in this event,” said Dymalski.
FISU Director General Paulo Ferreira mentioned the success of the first-ever FISU eSports Challenge, saying that the event was potentially something FISU will continue to look into, keeping in mind the framework of university sports.
FISU First Vice President Leonz Eder opened the discussion on the postponed Lucerne 2021 FISU World University Games by saying that it was “Very difficult to accept the fact that the result of almost five years of preparation was derailed by the unforeseen pandemic.”
“On the other hand, the health of all involved is our top priority,” he continued. “The decision to postpone the event from January 2021 was therefore only logical.”
FISU Winter Games Director Milan Augustin presented the results of a survey conducted among national member federations as well as the six International Federations governing the sports of the winter Games. In general, December 2021 emerged as the strongest possibility for rescheduling the games.
I urge the Organising Committee to work closely with FISU and find the best solutions for holding the postponed Games in December 2021," said FISU President Oleg Matytsin.
Chengdu 2021 FISU World University Games
FISU Vice President Shen Zhen said that the developments related to the Tokyo Olympics were being closely monitored in the preparations for the Chengdu 2021 FISU World University Games in August next year, even as progress is on track.
“We have held many online meetings to continue to monitor the progress,” he said. “The Municipal Government attaches great importance to the FISU World University Games. Therefore, construction and renovations of venues is very much on schedule.”
FISU Summer Games Director Marc Vandenplas expressed the urgent need for the Summer Games team to also be able to work onsite, despite the hundreds of online meetings held so far.
“We are hoping that as early as end of this year we will be able to work onsite,” said Vandenplas. “We have seen some delays, although the change of Mayor of Chengdu is probably one of the reasons for some delayed tenders.”
Future World University Games
The Executive Committee meeting concluded with progress reports from more future hosts of the World University Games; including the Organising Committees of the Lake Placid 2023 and Ekaterinburg 2023 winter and summer editions respectively.
Finally, Verena Burk presented developments related to the German candidature for the 2025 summer games, while EC member Lorenzo Lentini presented Italy’s intent to bid for the winter edition in 2025.
“It is great that despite the current situation we have such strong support and intent from sporting powerhouse countries like Germany and Italy,” said FISU Secretary General Eric Saintrond. “They have always been very supportive of FISU and we are indeed very thankful for their candidature.”
Closing the meeting, FISU President Oleg Matytsin added, “We look forward to making the final decisions on the 2025 games soon."
The Executive Committee will once again be in session on 6 November 2020, as due to the online format, some agenda items were scheduled for a later date. A more detailedd news report of the Executive Committee meeting can be found here on FISU website.
The International University Sports Federation – FISU
Founded in 1949, FISU stands for Fédération Internationale du Sport Universitaire (International University Sports Federation). FISU was formed within university institutions in order to promote sports values and sports practice in harmony with the university spirit. Promoting sports values means encouraging friendship, fraternity, fair-play, perseverance, integrity and cooperation amongst students, who one day may have responsibilities and key positions in politics, economy, culture and industry.
All FISU sports events include educational and cultural aspects, bringing together athletes and academia from all over the world to celebrate with a spirit of friendship and sportsmanship. FISU cooperates in developing its events and programmes with all major international sports and educational organisations. As major outcomes of those collaborations, in 2015, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) proclaimed the International Day of University Sport to be celebrated annually on 20 September – an event that has seen huge growth in its first few years.
FISU is composed of 174 Member Associations (National University Sports Federations). The FISU General Assembly elects the members of the FISU Executive Committee, its board of directors. A total of 14 permanent committees advise the Executive Committee in their specialised areas. For the daily administration of FISU, the FISU Executive Committee relies on the Secretary General, who is assisted by the FISU staff. FISU’s headquarters are in Lausanne, Switzerland.
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