Edmonton bids to host 1983 Universiade

Coming off the successful staging of the 1978 Commonwealth Games, the city of Edmonton, in partnership with the University of Alberta, is once again looking to host a major international sporting event. This time, the target is the 1983 World University Games, commonly called the Universiade.

The Universiade is second in size only to the Olympic Games and traditionally serves as a testing ground for Olympic and potential Olympic competitors. It is estimated that about one-third of the 4,389 athletes who participated at the 1979 Universiade in Mexico City will be competing at the 1980 Summer Olympics.

Edmonton’s only known competitor to host the Universiade is Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Selection is expected to be made in late summer by the executive committee of the Fédération Internationale du Sport Universitaire (FISU).

The Universiade was founded late in the 1940s to promote both university sport competition and cultural exchange among students. Along with the athletic events, culture is an integral aspect of the Games, featuring dance and music performances, theatre, sculpture, and photography.

Participation in the Games was initially limited to western European countries and some Asian nations, with east European countries holding their own competitions. By 1959, membership in FISU had widened to take in the east Europeans and by 1965, in Budapest, the first Canadian and American teams were entered.

Canadian participation in the Universiade is handled by the Canadian Interuniversity Athletic Union (CIAU), which in 1973 assumed the responsibility to organize a national Universiade team. The Canadian team has since grown from 102 athletes in 1973 to an expected team of 225 which will compete in 1981 in Bucharest.

To accommodate the Universiade sports — athletics, basketball, cycling, diving, fencing, gymnastics, swimming, tennis, volleyball, and water polo — Edmonton plans to utilize existing facilities, many of which were built for the Commonwealth Games. As well, there are plans to build a new field-house and tennis complex at the University of Alberta and some additional student housing.

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