Yekaterinburg had been due to host the FISU World University Games in 2023 ©Getty Images

Russian Sports Minister Oleg Matytsin has claimed that more than 4,000 athletes from 22 countries are set to participate in the multi-sport event branded the International University Sports Festival in Yekaterinburg next year.

The Russian city had been set to stage the International University Sports Federation (FISU) World University Games, but had its hosting rights suspended due to the war in Ukraine.

The replacement festival was announced as part of a Russian-Chinese sporting initiative, entitled the Years of Russian-Chinese Cooperation in Sports in 2022 and 2023, which was confirmed by Russian President Vladimir Putin in October.

Matytsin is also the elected President of FISU, but stood aside last year for the duration of doping sanctions preventing any Russian Government officials from holding a position at an international governing body that is a signatory to the World Anti-Doping Code.

Under the plans announced in March 2021, he is set to return on December 17, although the invasion of Ukraine has cast doubt over that, and an Extraordinary Congress has been scheduled by FISU.

The International University Sports Festival has been scheduled for the same dates as those originally allotted for the FISU Games - August 8 to 19 2023.

The Chendgu 2023 FISU Games is now scheduled for July 28 to August 8 2023, and Matytsin revealed last month that he has sought Chinese support for Russia's participation.

FISU has excluded Russian and Belarusian athletes from next month's Winter World University Games in Lake Placid, but a decision has yet to be taken on the summer edition, which is now set to take place in Chengdu.

Russian Sports Minister Oleg Matytsin expects 22 countries to participate at the International University Sports Festival in Yekaterinburg ©Getty Images
Russian Sports Minister Oleg Matytsin expects 22 countries to participate at the International University Sports Festival in Yekaterinburg ©Getty Images

Matytsin outlined plans for the International University Sports Festival in Yekaterinburg.

"Holding the International University Sports Festival with the participation of university teams from the BRICS [Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa], SCO [Shanghai Cooperation Organisation] and CIS [Commonwealth of Independent States] member states will contribute to the achievement of goals and objectives in the face of existing challenges," he said, as reported by Russian state news agency TASS.

"More than 4,000 athletes aged 17 to 23 from 22 countries are expected to participate in the competition.

"The programme took into account the readiness of sports facilities, the development of sports among the countries interested in participating, the popularity of disciplines in Yekaterinburg among the audience."

According to TASS, six venues are set to be used in Yekaterinburg, using infrastructure intended for the 2023 FISU Games.

Azerbaijan, Armenia, Afghanistan, Belarus, Brazil, India, Iran, Kazakhstan, Cambodia, Kyrgyzstan, China, Mongolia, Nepal, Pakistan, Moldova, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Turkey, Uzbekistan, Sri Lanka and South Africa are the countries set to take part in addition to Russia as host, with 193 medal events across 14 sports expected.

This has shades of the "We are together. Sports" event held in Khanty-Mansiysk in March, after Russian and Belarusian athletes were banned from the Beijing 2022 Winter Paralympics on the eve of the Opening Ceremony.

Armenia, Kazakhstan and Tajikistan were the other countries that sent representatives.