The 2011 Universiade will be held in Shenzhen on August 12-13, 2011.
The International University Sports Federation, FISU, arose within university institutions to propagate sport values and promote sports practice in perfect synergy and complementarity with the university spirit.
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 the emergence of university sports associations, the first of which came into being in the United States in 1905. Unlike the Olympic Movement, which had an international structure from 1894 onwards, the International Confederation of Students wasn’t established until 1919. It was this organisation’s Sports Committee that would launch the first World University Games of 1923.
FISU was officially formed in 1949, but its origin goes back to the 1920’s when Frenchman, Jean Petitjean, organised the first ‘World Student Games’ in Paris in May 1923. The following year saw the birth of the International Confederation of Students (ICS), which held a congress in Warsaw. Several delegations took part and the movement was launched. From 1925 to 1939, many great sporting events were organised by the students and the ICS: in Prague (1925), Rome (1927), then again in Paris, Darmstadt (1930), Turin (1933), Budapest (1935), Paris (1937), Monaco (1939). The Second World War interrupted these meetings, but when peace was restored, France re-launched the World University Games.
This peace was a relative one, because the shadow of the Cold War soon divided university sport. In 1949, although the International Students Union (ISU) organised Games at which very few Western countries participated, the International University Sports Federation (FISU), born the previous year in Luxembourg, under the impetus of Dr. Paul Schleimer, was officially founded and organised its first International University Sports Weeks, bringing together the western delegations. These meetings took place notably in Merano (1949), Luxembourg (1951), Dortmund (1953) and San Sebastian (1955). In a new start in 1957, the French Federation organised a World University Sports Championship which brought together students from the Eastern and Western blocks. From this meeting came the desire to organise a universal event in which students from all over the world could participate.
In 1959, FISU and the ISU agreed to participate in the games organised in Turin, Italy by CUSI, the Italian Student Sport Association. That year was undoubtedly the one that left the biggest impression on our federation. In fact, the Italian organisers baptised these 1959 games with the name Universiade. They created the flag with a ‘U’ surrounded by stars, which was going to begin its journey around the world, and replaced the national anthems at the medal-awarding ceremonies by the Gaudeamus Igitur.
The Universiade in Turin was a success for the local Executive Committee and for the man who was going to change the future of the university sports movement: Dr. Primo NEBIOLO. At this Universiade, which brought together 43 different countries and 1,400 participants, many non-member federations asked to become members of FISU. However, even though university sports finally led a peaceful coexistence, the modus vivendi still needed to be established. In addition to the agreement that was made concerning national symbols (neither flags nor anthems) and on the program, FISU determined its philosophy in article 2 of its statutes by stipulating: ‘FISU pursues its objects without consideration or discrimination of a political, denominational or racial nature’. From then on, FISU was to organise the Games on a worldwide level.