The International University Sports Federation, FISU, holds Universiades and World Championships for university students.
171 countries of 5 continents are members of FISU.
At the beginning of the 19th century, competitive sport took its first steps, guided by one of its precursors and the father of the modern Olympics, Baron Pierre de Coubertin. It was in the United States, England and Switzerland that the first inter-university meets were held. They gradually led to the emergence of university sports associations, the first of which came into being in the United States in 1905.
The first ‘World Student Games’ were organised by Jean Petitjean in Paris, in May 1923. The following year, the International Confederation of Students (ICS) associated itself with this movement.
FISU was officially established in 1949, but its origin goes back to the 1920s.
From 1925 to 1939, many great sporting events were organised by the students and the ICS: in Prague (1925), Rome (1927), again in Paris (1928), Darmstadt (1930), Turin (1933), Budapest (1935), Paris (1937), Monaco (1939). The Second World War interrupted these meets, but when peace was restored, France re-launched the World University Games.
Creation of FISU
In 1946, the International Students Union (ISU) was created in Prague for the purpose of pursuing the work of the ISU, organising in 1947 the 9th World University Games . After those games, the increasing politicisation of the ISU led to a division within the university sports movement.
In 1949, the International University Sports Federation (FISU) was created under the impetus of Paul Schleimer of Luxembourg.
In 1957, the French federation organised a World University Sports Championship which brought together students from both the Eastern and Western blocks. From this meet arose the desire to organise a universal event in which students from all around the world could participate.
In 1959, FISU and the ISU agreed to participate in the games organised in Turin, Italy, which was organized by the Italian Student Sports Association (CUSI). That year was undoubtedly the one that left the biggest impression on FISU, with the Italian organisers baptisting those 1959 games as a ‘Universiade’. It was then that they created the flag with a ‘U’ surrounded by stars which then and there began its journey around the world.
The Expansion of University Sport
Ever since this important period, the Universiades have continued to attract more and more participants. Starting with a total of 1,407 participants in Turin, Italy, in 1959, it eventually reached a total of 6,757 participants from more than 165 countries in Beijing, China, in 2001, and 6,643 participants from 174 countries in Daegu, Korea, in 2003. The highest number of participants was registered at the 2011 Summer Universiade in Shenzhen, China, at 10,624.
The Winter Universiades experienced a similar success. In fact, whereas FISU statistics show that 98 athletes participated in the Winter Games in Zell-Am-See, Austria, in 1958, a record of 2,831 participants from 44 countries came to the Winter Universiade in Harbin, China, in 2009.
Over 50 years, more than 300 championships have been organised, covering a large range of events (almost always different from the Universiade sports) and gathering participants from all over the world. Meant to guarantee continuity of the competition programme, these championships take place on even-numbered years. They have experienced an increasing number of successes over the years.
President of FISU
The first president of FISU was Paul Schleimer – a physicist and mathematician from Luxembourg. He led FISU for 12 years. He was replaced by Primo Nebiolo, whose name is associated with the active development of the World Universiades, not to mention the international university sports movement in general. From 1999-2011, George Killian headed FISU. On 9 August 2011, at the meeting of the Executive Committee of FISU in Shenzhen (China), Claude-Louis Gallien was elected as the new FISU president. Then, on 8 November 2015, at the meeting of the Executive Committee of FISU in Loussane (Switzerland), the new president of FISU was elected – the Russian Oleg Matytsyn, the president of the Russian university students sports union, winning 102 out of 128 votes.
FISU and Kazakhstan
Kazakhstani athletes have been participating in the Universiades since 1993. From that period of time, more than 700 domestic athletes have participated in the Universiades, winning a total of 125 medals – 35 gold, 39 silver and 51 bronze.
The Next Universiades
In 2017, the 28th Winter Universiade will be held in Almaty from 29 January to 8 February. 2000 athletes between the ages of 17-28 from 55 countries will participate in the competitions. Approximately, 3000 volunteers will be involved in the functional directions at the 8 sports venues, airport and hotels of the city. 3000 foreign guests and tourists are expected to attend the games.
The 29th Winter Universiade 2019 will be held in Russia in the city of Krasnoyarsk. It will be the first time that Russia hosts the Winter Universiade, despite the fact that it will be the third Universiade hosted by Russia in general.
The first Summer Universiade to be held in Russia was the 1973 Universiade in Moscow, with the second one being held in Kazan in 2013.
The 29th Summer Universiade 2017 will be held in Taibei.
The 30th Summer Universiade 2019 will be held in Brazil.