Sport facilities in the Dongan Lake Sports Park in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, on April 18. The frisbee-shaped stadium will host the opening ceremony of the Chengdu Universiade on July 28 (XINHUA)
In less than three months, the flame for the 31st FISU Summer World University Games (Universiade) will be burning bright at its main venue, the Dongan Lake Sports Park Stadium located by the side of Dongan Lake in Chengdu, capital of Sichuan Province. The international multi-sports event for university athletes will run from July 28 to August 8.
The biennial summer Universiade is organized by the International University Sports Federation (FISU), which includes 15 compulsory sports and up to three optional ones chosen by the host city from those recognized by the FISU. Chengdu is the third Chinese mainland city to host the games, after Beijing in 2001 and Shenzhen in 2011. The Chengdu Universiade, originally scheduled for 2021, was postponed twice due to COVID-19.
"Twenty percent of the world's university students are in China, and the national university sports federation has a clear and proven capability of holding student sports events of the very highest quality," FISU President Oleg Matytsin said in a statement posted on the organization's website.
Matytsin said he believes the Chengdu Universiade will prove to be an exceptional one that will make "a lasting and very positive impression both on the participants and on the city itself."
Currently, selection of contestants for the games is still underway. China will send a delegation of more than 800 members, including about 500 athletes, Wang Jiayi, Vice Education Minister of China, told a press conference in Beijing on April 19.
Models present the official uniforms for the Chengdu Universiade at the 100-day countdown ceremony in the Dongan Lake Sports Park on April 19 (XINHUA)
The Chengdu Universiade will be the first large international sporting event to take place in China after the country adjusted its COVID-19 response mechanism late last year. With the games approaching, preparations have entered the final stage. The 100-day countdown ceremony in the Dongan Lake Sports Park on April 19 unveiled the official uniforms for the Chengdu Universiade and released the event's promotional songs Wings of the City and Colors of Dreams.
"We'll spare no effort to make the Chengdu Universiade exciting. After four years of preparation, the host city has built high-quality venues, conducted well-rounded training for the organizing staff of the games and planned a wide range of educational, cultural and sports exchange activities," Wang said.
"The 49 venues of the games were ready for use in 2021. This year we have tested them again and they all meet international standards. In May and June, their functionality will be further refined through test events," Sichuan Vice Governor Zheng Bei, who also serves as vice president of the Chengdu Universiade's organizing committee, said at the same press conference.
According to Xinhua News Agency, the 40,000-seat, frisbee-shaped stadium in the Dongan Lake Sports Park will host the opening ceremony. The park also has two gymnasiums to serve as competition and warm-up venues for artistic gymnastics events, and an aquatics center for swimming events during the games. The competitions of other sports, including archery, gymnastics, athletics, badminton, basketball and fencing, will be staged in venues across the city, including on university campuses.
Zheng said Chengdu is determined to provide the best possible services to delegations from all over the world during the games. He added 20,000 volunteers have been recruited to work at venues and another more than 1.3 million community volunteers will deliver related urban services throughout the city.
Recruitment of venue volunteers, who come from 34 universities, was completed in March and they are currently receiving training, according to Chengdu Mayor Wang Fengchao, who is also vice president and secretary general of the games' organizing committee.
The mayor also said cutting-edge technologies will be used to serve the Universiade. He particularly mentioned robots named after the games' mascot panda Rongbao, which are the first of their kind to feature emergency aid functions. Rongbao robots are equipped with first-aid kits, defibrillators and other medical tools for one-click rescue services. They can also perform functions such as multi-language interpretation.
A mobile app has been developed to serve the athletes and those visiting Chengdu for the games. For instance, it can offer virtual reality tours of the athletes' village, and provide dining, transportation and weather information, as well as event scheduling, ticketing and live-streaming of competitions. Users can also access services such as virtual tours of Chengdu, sales tax refunds for international visitors and other financial services.
A platform for cultural exchange
The Chengdu Universiade is not only a sporting event for young people from around the world to improve their athletic skills, but also a platform for communication, interaction and expanding international perspectives, Wang Jiayi said. In particular, after three years under the COVID-19 pandemic, university athletes all over the world are eager for these kinds of exchanges, he added.
The athletes' village will host several cultural activities, including an art exhibition themed on Chengdu and interactive exhibitions and activities on intangible cultural heritage, music, dance and Sichuan Opera, according to the vice minister. He said other activities will include visits to the city's iconic panda research and breeding facilities, visits to museums, and academic exchange activities centering on university sports.
"We hope young people from all over the world can deepen their mutual understanding and enhance friendship in a relaxed and joyful atmosphere," Zheng said.
Sichuan has been expanding international exchange and cooperation over the past decade, according to Zheng. Not only is the province home to the consulates of 23 countries, it also has economic and trade ties with more than 220 countries and regions, and is host to more than 5,300 foreign companies. "Sichuan's circle of friends is becoming larger and larger," he said.
On April 26, consular officials from 15 countries visited the Universiade venues at the invitation of the Chengdu Municipal Government. Wannaporn Suwanorn, a consular official of the Royal Thai Consulate-General in Chengdu, said she would like to recommend the athletes of her country to try the city's famous hotpot and san da pao (glutinous rice ball), as well as explore Jinli Street and Kuanzhai Alley to experience the city's unique culture. Thailand reportedly will send more than 50 athletes to compete at the upcoming games.
(Print Edition Title: A Stage for the Young and Strong)
Copyedited by G.P. Wilson
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