FISU boss praises city for 'best ever Games'

Updated: 2011-08-23 15:28

By Shi Yingying (China Daily)

Gallien says Shenzhen exceeded expectations with 'very positive' event on and off the fields

SHENZHEN - With his flight booked for tomorrow, Claude-Louis Gallien, president of the International University Sports Federation (FISU), had a lot of "thank yous" to say before he left Shenzhen.

"I want to extend our warmest thanks to our Chinese hosts for the huge work they've done during the games," Gallien said. "It's a tradition to say that the present Universiade is the best ever, but this time it's true."

FISU boss praises city for 'best ever Games'

FISU president Claude-Louis Gallien. [Photo by Chen Chao/China Daily]

The Shenzhen Games broke the record for the number of participants - 10,603, made up of 7,132 athletes and 3,471 officials from 151 countries and regions - according to the latest statistics released by FISU's International Control Committee. Shenzhen Universiade also set a record for the number of events.

"The sports program of these games was very ambitious," Gallien said. "It was the first time we had 24 sports - 10 compulsory and 14 invited.

"This was also the first time that the number of participants passed the 10,000 mark. There were 1,597 more participants here than there were at the previous largest games, at Bangkok in 2007.

"It is worth mentioning that the city of Shenzhen has made a huge investment to reach such a level of excellence."

If there is anything to say about Shenzhen's Organizing Committee, Gianni Merlo, president of the International Sports Press Association, put it into one sentence: "Gold medal, no, diamond medal must be given to the organizers."

As Gallien pointed out, it was not easy to welcome so many people and fit them into the tight competition schedules. However, "the organizing committee brilliantly took up this challenge by offering our athletes excellent conditions in which to compete," he said.

"Feedback received from FISU technical delegates and heads of delegations was very positive," he said.

"I want to mention one specific point: our Muslin friends, they are in Ramadan this month and they've been taken good care of by the organizers," said Gallien, referring to special dining treatment Muslin athletes received in the Universiade Village.

Shenzhen's passionate sports fans also impressed Gallien. "I was at the women's soccer final between China and Japan on Sunday night," he said.

"You could see and hear the way 34,000 people filled Shenzhen Bao'an Stadium. They're real spectators, they're the real audience.

Compare it with the men's soccer final at the last Universiade, where there were only 2,000 people. Here was totally different."

In addition to the support of large crowds, spectators across the world enjoyed the competition either through television or the Internet, thanks to the media coverage.

According to Gallien, the Shenzhen Universiade had the biggest television coverage in FISU history for 20 of its 24 events. The coverage went to more than 70 countries. "It also gives families the opportunity to watch their kids competing," said Gallien.


About Shenzhen

Shenzhen is located at the southern tip of the Chinese mainland on the eastern bank of the mouth of the Pearl River and neighbors Hong Kong.

The brainchild of Deng Xiaoping, the country's first special economic zone was established here by the Chinese Government in 1980. It has been a touchstone for China's reform and opening-up policy since then.