In August, the eyes of the whole world were fixed on “a better Taipei.”
The history of the Universiade goes back 50 years. Organized by the International University Sports Federation (FISU), a Summer and Winter Universiade is staged every two years, with a different city selected to serve as host each time. It provides a stage for university athletes from around the globe to engage in international multi-sport competitions. According to statistics, 48% of Olympic medal winners have been medalists in the Universiade. Owing to this, and to its scale and importance, the Universiade is seen as an “opening skirmish” of the great Olympic campaign, and it is often referred to as the “Little Olympics” in the sporting world. Taiwan participated in the Universiade for the first time in 1987 and enjoyed its best results in the 2009 competition in Serbia, finishing seventh with 7 golds, 5 silvers, and 5 bronzes, and it has finished in the top 10 in every meet since then. Drawing on the hard-earned experience of four unsuccessful bids to serve as host city, joyous success at last came knocking in November 2011. On its fifth try, Taipei was finally selected to host the 2017 Universiade, beating out Brazil’s capital Brasilia for the honor.
The Taipei Universiade – Innovative Approach Receives Praise
Taipei has also implemented a number of Universiade precedents, such as creating an official “grand alliance” (大聯盟) logistics and transportation platform to ensure countries that getting their equipment and materials to Taipei would be taken care of. This resulted in a drastic reduction of some embarrassing situations, such as abandoning the pole vault competition due to a jumper’s undelivered pole. In addition, at the Athletes’ Village in Linkou (林口) District, New Taipei City , food services were available online to country representatives for the first time ever, which eased the flow at peak periods when upwards of 3,500 athletes wanted to eat at the same time. It should also be mentioned that after the conclusion of the games, the Athletes’ Village was turned over to social housing, thus ensuring a full and proper use of public resources.
A total of 134 teams from around the globe participated in the Universiade, comprised of 7,639 international athletes and 3,758 officials, making the games the best possible cultural marketing platform for Taiwan. From its widely-popular mascot bear, Bravo, to the ultra-lightweight torch created using traditional Taiwan bamboo-weaving and modern laser technology, and even to the design of Universiade apparel and its functional textiles – all were produced in Taiwan. It aimed to integrate the strengths of Taiwan’s native-soil cultural creativity in a showcase for the whole world to see.
Taipei 2017 Summer Universiade Competition Categories
Compulsory: Athletics, Basketball, Diving, Fencing, Football, Artistic Gymnastics, Rhythmic Gymnastics, Judo, Swimming, Table Tennis, Taekwondo, Tennis, Volleyball, Water Polo
(14 categories in total)
Optional: Archery, Badminton, Baseball, Golf, Weightlifting, Wushu, Roller Sports (roller sports was a newly added category in which Taiwan had competitive athletes; 7 categories in total)
Demonstration: Billiards (1 category)
3.1.1: Chen Shih-hsin, Olympic gold-medal winner in taekwondo, carries the torch to its platform at Taipei City Hall, proudly holding it aloft.