CHENGDU, China, Aug. 8, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — The Chengdu FISU World University Games (Chengdu FISU Games) are nearly at an end, but the Games’ youthful vitality continues to shine on the vast land of Chengdu, Southwest China’s Sichuan Province, where young people from all over the world while hard in competition, have also had an opportunity to enjoy the charm of the city known to the world for its leisure lifestyle.

“The preparations and setup of the venues are just unbelievable. Everything has been running smoothly and the competitions are going very well. We can only praise the organizing committee for the great work done,” said Leonz Eder, the acting president of the FISU.

Eder was rushed but excited to give an exclusive interview to the Globe Times due to a tight schedule.

Among his countless meetings and daily receptions, he still found time to go to the various venues to watch the games, such as Taekwondo, table tennis and badminton, enjoying the heated competitive atmosphere of the great event.

Eder noted that on the sidelines of the sports gathering, he has spoken to a lot of athletes, coaches and technical delegates, who were highly impressed by the quality of the facilities, competence of the people working there and friendliness of the volunteers.

A passionate and dedicated city

“I’m very much impressed by the willingness of all the people involved to deliver excellent games,” Eder said.

The acting president noted that the Chengdu FISU Games attracted 6,500 athletes from 113 countries and regions. “They feel the hospitality of people from Chengdu. There’s nothing more I can say other than I just feel endless gratitude and happiness about the Games,” he said.

The Chengdu FISU Games are the only World University Games in the history of FISU to be postponed twice.

Chengdu was ready in 2021, however due to the pandemic, the Games were postponed to 2022 and later to 2023.

“I feel great, endless gratitude toward the people of Chengdu, the province, and the Chinese government for remaining motivated for such a long time and for delivering excellent services. This was not easy,” Eder told the Global Times.

Eder pointed out that although COVID-19 made communication challenging and prevented most global collaborations from taking place, FISU and officials from the organizing committee of the Games still maintained fairly good exchanges throughout the period.

“I felt that the cooperation in all the previous years was very friendly, productive, and very goal-oriented because we had a common goal. The Chinese organizers and FISU had the same goal – to host excellent Games in a friendly, safe atmosphere,” he said.

“And here we successfully organized a simple, safe, and splendid sporting event. This is what we developed together,” Eder said proudly.

A unique experience

As an ex-coach and former journalist, Eder believes that competitions are especially unique when viewed as part of the Chengdu FISU Games.

Younger athletes gain an opportunity to learn how such big multi-sport events and a high-level competition provide great opportunities to compete against world champions or even Olympic medalists. And the slightly older students can prove their adeptness at juggling the doubly weighty responsibilities of studying and training in their chosen sport fields, he explained.

And Eder stressed that the Games are a wonderful opportunity for young athletes to be in a large community where they can learn about the culture, the history and people of Chengdu.

“This is one of the most important experiences in the field of sport, but also in life as a whole. So the Chengdu Games will certainly mark a great step in the lives of thousands of young people,” Eder said.

Eder also mentioned that so far, China ranks top of the medal leader board. “They deserve it because they prepared not only as an organizer, but all the Chinese student athletes prepared themselves to present the best performance in their home games.”

“I do believe that it’s in the policy of China to promote elite sports among students as potential careers along with their conventional studies, but the government also encourages fitness among the larger population to maintain healthy lifestyles,” he said.

Eder pointed out that, from training athletes to encouraging more young people to participate in sports activities, promoting the sound development of university sports is also a part of the important cooperation content between China and FISU.

On Friday, the unveiling ceremony of the International University Sports Culture Exchange Center was held in Chengdu. The center, jointly built by FISU and the Chengdu Sport University, is the first center jointly built by FISU and a host university. It is also the first international university sports culture exchange platform authorized by FISU in China.

A more confident, inclusive China

Eder has had a longstanding relationship with China. His first visit to China was in 1985, when he participated in the Universiade in Kobe, Japan, as part of the Swiss university sports delegation. After the games, he joined the delegation on a cultural tour of China.

Over the last 20 years, the Chinese mainland has hosted four World University Games, giving Eder the opportunity to return to China to attend the sporting events. “I have maybe visited China 25 times altogether. It is the one of the country I have visited the most in my life,” he told the Global Times.

While on his trips to China, Eder has observed the country’s fast economic development, as well as its increased confidence and openness.

“I can feel the country’s readiness to cooperate with many countries whether they come from East, from West, from North, or South,” he said.

So far, Eder said he has received numerous gifts from so many different people and from the organizing committee, that his packed suitcases are full of pandas mementoes in different sizes and a collection of nice books. He plans to take them back home to his family and friends.

“But I believe the panda is so popular all over the world and everybody will never forget that they were here in the home of the pandas. They have competed here and have had such memorable, unforgettable experiences,” Eder noted, adding that after the successful conclusion of the Games, he looks forward to further exploring the charm of Chengdu and the rest of China again.