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World Student Games in Kazan – a reminder of the importance of (international) university sports

Sports have always played a big role in university life, especially in countries like the United States, where young athletes often enjoy admission preferences. The global university sport scene is largely driven by the World Student Games or Universiade - the worldwide competitions for student-athletes between the ages of 17 and 28. Similarly to big international sport events, such as the Olympic Games, the World Student Games have lately started to attract much public and media attention, and policy-makers even see them as a possibility not only to showcase the host country’s facilities and youth talents, but also its dynamic university towns. The latest World Student Games were held in Kazan, the capital of the Republic of Tatarstan in Russia, in July and brought together nearly 10 000 athletes from over 160 countries. With 27 sports in which 351 sets of medals were up for grabs, the World Student Games were even bigger than the Olympics. Officially, the budget of the Universiade in Kazan was slightly above EUR 5 billion, with money having been spent on 30 new local sport facilities and infrastructure. It is the second-largest amount in the history of the Student Games after last summer’s Universiade in Shenzhen, China, where a staggering EUR 22 billion were spent. According to the official organisers, the live broadcast of the opening ceremony had a stunning total of more than 1 billion viewers. These numbers, even if overestimated, remind us of the impressive weight and importance of university sports in international student exchanges and campus life. Official website of the 27th summer Universiade in Kazan Euronews