FISU hosted the first day of its virtual General Assembly ©FISU

International University Sports Federation (FISU) secretary general Eric Saintrond has outlined the challenges of hosting upcoming World University Games amid the COVID-19 pandemic during the first day of the organisation’s virtual General Assembly.

The FISU was forced to reschedule both the Lucerne 2021 Winter Universiade and the Chengdu 2021 FISU World University Games because of the pandemic.

Lucerne 2021 was scheduled to take place in January 2021, but organisers agreed to push back the event to December due to the global health crisis.

Saintrond told the FISU General Assembly that there had been much discussion leading to a decision to keep the event in 2021, as well as moving the Chengdu 2021 FISU Games to new dates in June 2022.

The FISU secretary general repeated that participants at Lucerne 2021 must be vaccinated, following a decision by organisers last month.

Plans for the Chengdu 2021 FISU Games are yet to be finalised, but Saintrond said a bubble format will be in place for the event.

This will be similar to the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games earlier in the year in China, where a "closed loop system" will be in operation.

The opening day of the General Assembly highlighted the impact of COVID-19 on the FISU calendar with only the 2020 Speed Skating World Championship able to take place over the past two years, albeit the event lost its final day of competition.

FISU expressed optimism that 14 FISU World University Championships and seven FISU University World Cups are scheduled and planned for 2022, as well as securing Rhine-Ruhr in Germany and Turin in Italy as hosts of the 2025 FISU Summer and Winter World University Games respectively.

FISU discussed the impact of COVID-19 on the organisation's major events ©FISU
FISU discussed the impact of COVID-19 on the organisation's major events ©FISU

The organisation highlighted the success of the FISU World Forum which featured 1,000 online participants from 105 countries, and the International Day of University Sport, in both 2020 and 2021, that saw 500 national level events organised.

FISU Acting President Leonz Eder discussed the impact of FISU’s Healthy Campus programme, which is in operation at 82 universities in 31 countries.

FISU confirmed Azerbaijan and Iraq will remain members of the organisation after paying membership fees by the required deadline.

American Samoa, Anguilla, Aruba, Bolivia, Chad, Cook Islands, Guam, Iceland, Lesotho, Rwanda, Sudan and Togo failed to meet the requirements in time, with their organisations now considered inactive.

FISU said the Cook Islands Sports and National Olympic Committee has met the requirements, which will see the organisation take on the role as its National University Sports Federation.

Kuwait, Puerto Rico, and Yemen were suspended for failure to meet membership requirements over the last four years, but can be reinstated should they amend issues by the 2023 General Assembly.

Tomorrow’s agenda will focus on Lucerne 2021 and the Chengdu 2021 FISU Games, as well as updates about the organisation’s global strategy and awards.