All Athletics Menu

World Competitions in Athletics

1. World Student Games (Pre-Universiade) - Overview


The Universiade is an international multi-sport event, organized for university athletes by the International University Sports Federation (FISU). The name is a combination of the words "University" and "olympiad". The Universiade is often referred to in English as the World University Games or World Student Games; however, this latter term can also refer to competitions for sub-University grades students, as well. The Universiade is the largest[vague] multi-sport event in the world apart from the Olympic Games.The most recent games were in 2015: the Winter Universiade was split between Granada in Spain and Štrbské Pleso and Osrblie in Slovakia, while the Summer Universiade was in Gwangju, Korea.
The flag of the International University Sports Federation.


The idea of a global international sports competition between student-athletes pre-dates the 1949 formation of the International University Sports Federation (FISU), which now hosts the Universiade. English peace campaigner Hodgson Pratt was an early advocate of such an event, proposing (and passing) a motion at the 1891 Universal Peace Congress in Rome to create a series of international student conferences in rotating host capital cities, with activities including art and sport. This did not come to pass, but a similar event was created in Germany in 1909 in the form of the Academic Olympia. Five editions were held from 1909 to 1913, all of which were hosted in Germany following the cancellation of an Italy-based event.
At the start of the 20th century, Jean Petitjean of France began to attempt to organise a "University Olympic Games". After discussion with Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the modern Olympic Games, Petitjean was convinced not to use the word "Olympic" in the tournament's name.[2] Petitjean, and later the Confederation Internationale des Etudiants (CIE), was the first to build a series of international events, beginning with the 1923 International Universities Championships. This was followed by the renamed 1924 Summer Student World Championships a year later and two further editions were held in 1927 and 1928. Another name change resulted in the 1930 International University Games. The CIE's International University Games was held four more times in the 1930s before having its final edition in 1947

from FISU

The Precursors

At the beginning of the 19th century, competitive sport took its first steps, guided by one of its precursors and the father of the modern Olympics, Baron Pierre de Coubertin. It was in the United States, England and Switzerland that the first inter-university meets were held. They gradually led to the emergence of university sports associations, the first of which came into being in the United States in 1905. Unlike the Olympic Movement, which had an international structure from 1894 onwards, the International Confederation of Students wasn't established until 1919. It was this organisation's Sports Committee that was to launch the first World University Games in 1923.


The Beginning

Jean PetitjeanJean PetitjeanFISU was officially formed in 1949, but its origin goes back to the 1920s when Frenchman Jean Petitjean organised the first 'World Student Games' in Paris in May 1923. The following year, the International Confederation of Students (ICS) associated itself with this movement. From 1925 to 1939, many great sporting events were organised by the students and the ICS: in Prague (1925), Rome (1927), again in Paris (1928), Darmstadt (1930), Turin (1933), Budapest (1935), Paris (1937), Monaco (1939). The Second World War interrupted these meets, but when peace was restored, France re-launched the World University Games.

1949: Creation of FISU

Dr. Paul SchleimerDr. Paul SchleimerThe peace was relative, and the shadow of the cold war soon divided university sport. In 1946, the International Students Union (ISU) was created in Prague to pursue the works of the International Confederation of Students, and it organised the 9th World University Games in 1947. After those games, the increasing politicisation of the ISU led to a division within the university sports movement. In 1948, the International University Sports Federation (FISU) was created under the impetus of Paul Schleimer of Luxembourg, and it launched the International University Sport Weeks in 1949 in Merano, Italy. Other editions followed: in Luxembourg (1951), Dortmund (1953) and San Sebastian (1955). In 1957, the French federation organised a World University Sports Championship which brought together students from the Eastern and Western blocks. From this meet arose the desire to organise a universal event in which students from all over the world could participate.


A separate group organised an alternative university games in 1939 in Vienna, in post-Anschluss Germany. The onset of World War II ceased all major international student sport activities and the aftermath also led to division among the movement, as the CIE was disbanded and rival organisations emerged. The Union Internationale des Étudiants (UIE) incorporated a university sports games into the World Festival of Youth and Students from 1947–1962, including one separate, unofficial games in 1954. This event principally catered for Eastern European countries.

After the closure of the CIE and the creation of the first UIE-organised games, FISU came into being in 1949 and held its own first major student sport event the same year in the form of the 1949 Summer International University Sports Week. The Sports Week was held biennially until 1955. Like the CIE's games before it, the FISU events were initially Western-led sports competitions.

Division between the largely Western European FISU and Eastern European UIE eventually began to dissipate among broadened participation at the 1957 World University Games. This event was not directly organised by either group, instead being organised by Jean Petitjean in France (which remained neutral to the split), but all respective nations from the groups took part. The FISU-organised Universiade became the direct successor to this competition, maintaining the biennial format into the inaugural 1959 Universiade. It was not until the 1957 World University Games that the Soviet Union began to compete in FISU events. That same year, what had previously been a European competition became a truly global one, with the inclusion of Brazil, Japan and the United States among the competing nations. The increased participation ultimately led to the establishment of the Universiade as the primary global student sport championship.
Precursor events
Year Event Organiser City Country
1923 International Universities Championships CIE Paris France
1924 Summer Student World Championships CIE Warsaw Poland
1927 Summer Student World Championships CIE Rome Italy
1928 Summer Student World Championships CIE Paris France
1930 International University Games CIE Darmstadt Weimar Republic
1933 International University Games CIE Turin Italy
1935 International University Games CIE Budapest Hungary
1937 International University Games CIE Paris France
1939 International University Games CIE Monte Carlo Monaco
1947 International University Games CIE Paris France
1947 World Festival of Youth and Students UIE Prague Czechoslovakia
1949 World Festival of Youth and Students UIE Budapest Hungary
1949 Summer International University Sports Week FISU Merano Italy
1951 World Festival of Youth and Students UIE East Berlin East Germany
1951 Summer International University Sports Week FISU Luxembourg Luxembourg
1953 World Festival of Youth and Students UIE Bucharest Romania
1953 Summer International University Sports Week FISU Dortmund West Germany
1955 World Festival of Youth and Students UIE Warsaw Poland
1955 Summer International University Sports Week FISU San Sebastián Spain
1957 World Festival of Youth and Students UIE Moscow Soviet Union
1957 World University Games France Paris France
1959 World Festival of Youth and Students UIE Vienna Austria
1962 World Festival of Youth and Students UIE Helsinki Finland







Real time web analytics, Heat map tracking

Olympic Games



All Events


You are here: Home Athletics Competitions World Competitions in Athletics World Student Games (Pre-Universiade) 1. World Student Games (Pre-Universiade) - Overview