A colorful ceremony held on Tuesday night at the Chengdu Open Air Music Park brings the FISU World University Games to a close in the Sichuan provincial capital. (PHOTO BY WEI XIAOHAO/CHINA DAILY)
The 31st FISU World University Games concluded on Tuesday night in Chengdu, Si-chuan province, winning wide praise from officials and athletes alike.
Declaring the games closed, Leonz Eder, acting president of the International University Sports Federation, said the event has made the dreams of student-athletes come true whether they have won medals or not, because their experience in the city has been gold medal standard.
The closing ceremony was held at the Chengdu Open Air Music Park. It was the first time in the world that the closing ceremony of a large international sporting event has been held in a park, according to the organizers of the games.
State Councilor Shen Yiqin attended the ceremony.
The ceremony aimed to leave the audience worldwide with fond memories of a unique Chengdu, from which they got to know China and fell in love with its people, the organizers said.
Huang Qiang, executive president of the organizing committee of the Chengdu games and governor of Sichuan, said Chengdu has become more vibrant, beautiful and comfortable because of the athletes.
"Student-athletes have put on passionate performances, cheered for each other, enjoyed strolling in the city and created great memories of the Chengdu games. Sichuan forever welcomes you back," Huang said.
'Dreams come true'
"It is difficult to say it in one sentence, but Chengdu really made all dreams come true," Eder said during a news conference earlier on Tuesday.
"Some athletes dreamed of winning medals in the Chengdu games, and they did. Meanwhile, some people dreamed of competing at their best level. Maybe they failed but nevertheless they had a unique experience of competing with top athletes from around the world," Eder said.
"Also, the dream of those who wanted to see China and meet the citizens of Chengdu has become reality," he added.
The organization of the event has been fantastic for everyone, including the athletes and spectators, he added.
"We can only congratulate the authorities who have prepared fantastic venues and great facilities as well as the hospitable people and the best volunteers we could have. All the services were just great and perfect. Nothing to add, just big, big thanks," Eder said.
During the closing ceremony, he said he appreciated the efforts made by all parties in hosting the Chengdu games.
Eric Saintrond, secretary-general and CEO of the International University Sports Federation, said the Chengdu games have offered young people from all over the world the opportunity to see and explore China themselves, which is particularly important given that people sometimes may have seen the wrong picture of the country in Western media.
David Schmude, president of the Continental University Sport Association of Oceania, said the Chengdu games have met the high standards set by the Olympic Games.
"The facilities are world-class. And I would think that the Chengdu games is of Olympic quality," Schmude said.
A total of 6,500 student-athletes from 113 countries and regions competed in 269 events of 18 sports at the Chengdu games, which opened on July 28.
China led the medal tally with 103 gold, 40 silver and 35 bronze. Japan was in second place with 21 gold. South Korea and Italy both won 17 gold and 17 silver and ended up in third and fourth places, respectively, as South Korea won two more bronze medals.
"Amazing" was the word that student-athletes used the most to describe their experiences at the Chengdu games.
Aman Saini, an archer from India, said he was impressed with the services and facilities at the event. "The service of the volunteers, transport facilities, the facilities in the athletes' village and the food are all top level," Saini said.
During the closing ceremony, the FISU flag was handed to a representative of Rhine-Ruhr, Germany, which will host the 32nd FISU World University Games in 2025.
Mahmut Ozdemir (left), parliamentary state secretary to the Federal Minister of the Interior and Community of Germany, and FISU Senior Executive Committee Member Verena Burk hold the FISU flag at a handover event during the closing ceremony of the Chengdu games on Tuesday. (PHOTO BY WEI XIAOHAO/CHINA DAILY)