习近平向联合国贸易和发展会议成立60周年庆祝活动开幕式发表视频致辞
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Chengdu FISU World University Games: More than fun and games

Source: CGTN | 2023-07-29
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Chengdu FISU World University Games: More than fun and games

By Sudeshna Sarkar

The 31st FISU World University Games kicked off on July 28 in Chengdu, the idyllic city in southwest China famed as the home of the giant panda and eye-watering spicy cuisine, will be more than fun and games. It will be an important demonstration of several factors.

As Wang Jiayi, Vice Minister of Education, said at an earlier press briefing, the Chengdu Universiade held under the aegis of the International University Sports Federation is the first large-scale international sports event to be held in China since the COVID-19 pandemic. Though it had to be postponed twice, it's now off the mark, providing a major boost to the Asian Games to be held in September-October in Hangzhou, the city in east China called "the finest and most luxurious city in the world" by Italian traveler Marco Polo. 

Rise of Chengdu

Chengdu was the venue of the BRICS Film Festival in 2017. An impressive catalog of infrastructure development has laid the foundation for Chengdu's international role. With the opening of the Chengdu Tianfu International Airport in 2021, Chengdu is the third city in the Chinese mainland to have two international airports, connected to more than 130 international and regional air routes. 

The Belt and Road Initiative has promoted Sichuan's growth by developing new land-sea transit routes for the western region. The number of China-Europe freight trains from Chengdu and Chongqing, two of the largest cities in the southwest, accounts for more than 30 percent of the country's total. The Chengdu-Chongqing Economic Circle, with a GDP of over 7 trillion yuan ($978 billion), is one of China's fastest-growing areas today.

The rapid growth of infrastructure has enhanced China's power to bid for international events with success and the success is also enabling the Chinese signature to be stamped on international sports events. In 2001, when Beijing hosted the Universiade, table tennis, the game recognized as a Chinese forte, debuted as an optional sport and Chinese paddlers bagged all seven golds. This time, the combat sport wushu, which originated in China, is one of the three optional sports.

Hi-tech and sustainable

The Chengdu Universiade is reported to be the first event of its kind using 5G technology. To be sustainable and reduce waste, it has transformed 36 venues from existing facilities, building only 13 new venues. The aim has been using smart construction technologies to reduce the use of energy, lower carbon emissions and be multifunctional. For example, an ice hockey rink can be transformed into a basketball court within hours.

The transport is green, using a fleet of over 1,300 new energy buses and 1,000 new energy cars, including driverless cars.

Smart robots at key venues are facilitating services, especially given the anti-COVID-19 measures. There are robotic players to help table tennis players practice and a robot, named Rongbao after the Universiade's mascot, can deliver first-aid kits and defibrillators. It is a multitasker, also able to provide multi-language translation. 

Water conservation is another priority. The Xindu Xiangcheng Sports Center Gymnasium, the venue of water polo events, has been designed to collect rainwater and recycle it for landscaping and replenishing an artificial pool. Science and Technology Daily reported that according to the Chengdu Universiade officials, this will reduce water consumption by 20 percent, saving over 3,000 tons of water each year.

Perhaps the most abiding legacy of the Chengdu Universiade is that similar to the way the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics ignited keen interest in winter sports, its venues will keep on promoting sports long after the competition is over. All "qualified" were already opened to the public last year to hold events either free of charge or at a low cost, which resulted in more than 700 events being held in them.

The result has been creating widespread fitness awareness as well as a sense of pride and ownership among the residents.

Sudeshna Sarkar, a special commentator on current affairs for CGTN, is a journalist and editor who has covered China as well as the Middle East.

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