FISU postpones 2021 Winter Universiade

 Toronto, ON- The organizing committee of the 2021 FISU Winter Universiade has postponed the games, which were set for January, 2021 in Lucerne, Switzerland. 

“After several meetings held with the State authorities of Switzerland and the different Cantons involved in hosting Lucerne 2021, we have unanimously agreed that the 30th Winter Universiade cannot be held in January 2021,” said FISU General secretary and CEO, Eric Saintrond in a statement. “We are sure this is the right decision in order to ensure the high-level standard of the event and the safety of all participants.”

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Team Canada vs Russia at the 2019 FISU games (U SPORTS/FISU)

The games are the second largest winter multi-sport international event, only behind the Winter Olympics, and in the world of COVID-19, the competition was not feasible. 

For Canada, U SPORTS released a statement, issuing their support of FISU’s decision to postpone the event. U SPORTS cancelled all fall championships on June 8, while also postponing the start of two-semester sports. 

“Canada is fully behind FISU’s tough but necessary announcement to delay the 2021 Winter Universiade,” said U SPORTS Chief Sport Officer Lisette Johnson-Stapley in the statement. “This was the right decision for the health and safety of all student-athletes, coaches and mission staff. We look forward to Canada’s participation in future FISU events.

Team Canada curling at the 2019 FISU Winter Universiade (Curling Canada)

As for the FISU games, postponement is being discussed with all stakeholders, with hopes of eventually putting on some sort of competition. After four years of planning the hosts are hoping to get some sort of finished product. 

Lucerne 2021 Managing Director, Urs Hunkeler explained “We will examine various time frames in detail together with all our partners. On the one hand, this evaluation will focus on the timing of the postponement, and on the other hand on the willingness to accompany us during a later event”.

What this means for Canada:

Canada has competed in the past 24 editions of the Winter Universiade, only being absent five times. The decision to postpone the games offers some flexibility to U SPORTS and Team Canada, who would have been hard-pressed to fill out FISU teams either without seasons or abbreviated campaigns. If hockey did return on Jan.1, 2021, and the games were still on, players would likely have only played once or twice before being sent off to Lucerne. 

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It is the safest option to postpone the games, considering the current situation, but it also gives a sense of comfort and flexibility to university sport in Canada.

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