August 2023: World University Games Update

Our August Newsletter focuses on this year’s Summer World University Games in Chengdu, China. Fortunately, your North Carolina USA 2029 Team was able to have onsite representation at the Games, with Dragomir Cioroslan and Shannon Mizell on hand for the first half of the Games, and NC USA 2029 Chair and CEO, Hill Carrow, there for the second half. We did a partial feature on the FISU Chengdu Games in last month’s newsletter; so this month we will touch on additional aspects of the Games that served as important learnings for our North Carolina Organizing Committee.

Chengdu Games Logo

Chengdu Takeaways

Here are some key things we experienced in Chengdu that are important for North Carolina and the United States planning and preparation for the Games:

  • The Games Are a Really Big Deal: While many in the United States are not that familiar with the FISU Summer World University Games since they have only been held once previously in our country (Buffalo, NY – 1993), the fact that the President of the most populous country in the world, China, the host country, took part in person to officially open the Games, shows the importance the world places on the Games. This was further underscored by the fact that President Xi Jinping was joined at Opening Ceremonies by the heads of state of five other countries (Burundi, Georgia, Guyana, Indonesia, and Mauritania)!
  • A Large Number of Excellent Volunteers is Essential: Chengdu assembled a team of 20,000 volunteers for the Games. Some Games attendees contended that perhaps China had an oversupply of volunteer support, but to Chengdu’s credit, while, indeed, there were volunteers in abundance, they were consistently well-attired, very attentive, well-mannered, extremely friendly, and always willing to help – no matter what the situation. In North Carolina especially, and the Southern U.S. in general, we have always prided ourselves on having warm, friendly volunteers steeped in the welcoming tradition of good old downhome Southern Hospitality. However, we are seriously going to have our work cut out for us to match or exceed the extremely hospitable, friendly, and helpful Chengdu volunteer contingent.
  • Top Tier Venues are Critical: Chengdu took this mantra seriously and constructed 13 new sports venues for the Games, and renovated another 36 on top of that. Fortunately, we in central North Carolina (North Carolina’s University Hub region: Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, Cary, and Greensboro), based on FISU’s site reviews of our facilities, have all the venues in place to be able to stage the Games. Our main effort then with those venues will be to ensure they are in top shape for hosting a world-class event. Chengdu had very few collegiate venues hosting the Games, so a significant point of emphasis for our NC USA 2029 FISU Games should be the true university experience that we can provide with so many of our competition and training venues located on our college campuses.
  • Tourist and Other Community Attractions Are Popular: While the Giant Panda Research Center was the most popular non-Games destination for athletes, officials, and fans at the Chengdu University Games, the Organizing Committee arranged for visits to, and tours of, a number of sites of interest around the city – from the mall and water park at the Global Center (world’s largest building) to cultural and historic sites. It was clear that athletes, administrators, and spectators alike all wanted to know and experience more about Chengdu. Our takeaway was that we need to make sure our numerous museums, university campuses, nearby attractions like the NC Zoo, and entertainment districts are in top condition and ready to put their best foot forward in welcoming and facilitating the visits of guests from over 150 countries of the world.
  • First Impressions are as Important as Everyone Says: Chengdu organizers took this to heart, even building a brand new mega-airport, Tianfu, (to add to their existing airport, Chengdu Shuangliu) for the Games. What stood out, however, was the attention to detail in the Games décor in the airport, along the roadways, at major intersections, in the host hotels, and, of course, at all Games venues, the Athlete Village, and so much more. The street banners, impeccable and attractive landscaping, and overall cleanliness of the city stood out and made for a very favorable impression of a city with over 20 million population. Chengdu set the bar very high in this regard, but gave us many great ideas on how North Carolina can also stand out in positive fashion when the Games arrive in 2029.
  • Games Village Activities Help Enhance the Participant Experience: Chengdu had a single Games Village, located at Chengdu University, where all members of the Games Official Delegation (athletes, coaches, and administrators) were housed and fed. In 2029, North Carolina USA is planning to have two villages: South Campus at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, and the University of North Carolina Greensboro. While our dorm and dining facilities stack up very well with those we visited at Chengdu University, Chengdu organizers added a number of extras to the Games Village that made the Village experience special. Some of the extras included an on-campus exhibition of Chengdu arts, history, and photography; hands-on participation and learning in traditional Chinese arts and crafts such as painting, calligraphy, and paper-cutting; and booths and exhibits each evening focused on Chinese culture.

Our overall takeaway was that this year’s Chengdu FISU Games was a big success, and we were very glad to be able to attend. While in China we were able to further build our international relationships with FISU leadership and as well as the leadership teams of the upcoming World University Games in Rhine-Ruhr, Germany (Summer Games, 2025) and ChungCheong, South Korea (Summer Games, 2027).

Chengdu Summer World University Games Volunteers joined by Hill Carrow

President Xi Jinping and Heads of State at the Chengdu Summer World University Games

Sports Briefs

First Test Event Stats: 

Impressive stats for last month’s 2023 USA Track & Field Masters National Outdoor Championships, which served as the first test event for the 2029 FISU World University Games, included: 1) 1,588 participants (largest Masters Track Nationals in history!), 2) 4,166 events, 3) oldest competitor: 94 years old, and 4) 49 states represented.

Winter WUG Up for Best Collegiate Event: 

Votes are being taken now through September 8 for SportsTravel Magazine’s World’s Best Sports Events Awards. The 2023 FISU World University Games Winter, which took place in Lake Placid, is nominated for Best Collegiate Event. Anyone can vote for these prestigious awards. To cast your ballot, click the button below. Note that the Best Collegiate Event section is the second category listed, and the Winter World University Games is the last one of the nominees listed in the category. For those of us who attended those Games, it was a great event and worthy of your support!

Women’s World Cup Stars: 

Six athletes from the recently completed Women’s World Cup compete here locally for the NC Courage: Emily Fox and Casey Murphy (Team USA), Rikke Madsen and Mille Gejl (Team Denmark), Kerolin Nicoli (Team Brazil), and Denise O’Sullivan (Team Ireland). They rejoined the team last Sunday for the match against the Chicago Red Stars that ended in a 1-1 tie. The NC Courage, one of our World University Games Bid Sponsors, are currently in second place in the NWSL.

Don’t Forget to Shop Local and Support the WUG

It’s been 90 days since our new online store opened with 2029 FISU World University Games t’s, polos, hoodies, tanks, caps, and more. Items come in a wide variety of colors, and the store has proven to be quite a popular online shopping destination since it went live May 31. Don’t miss your opportunity to show your support of the 2029 FISU World University Games and snag some excellent quality, name-brand clothing and caps to boot!

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