BEIJING, June 10 (Xinhua) — The torch relay for the 31st FISU World University Games began here on Saturday, kicking off a 48-day countdown to the Games to be held in Chengdu, southwest China’s Sichuan Province.
Chinese Vice Premier Ding Xuexiang, also a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, lit the torch from a cauldron at a ceremony held on the campus of Peking University and announced the start of the relay.
FISU acting president Leonz Eder said in a video message at the ceremony that the torch relay will convey the spirit and atmosphere of the FISU Games to the whole world.
“Young representatives from many countries and regions will deliver the powerful message of ‘working together to create a brighter future for mankind’ as torchbearers of the Chengdu 2021 FISU Games,” he said.
“Together they symbolize the powerful force of collaboration for the betterment of our common shared future.”
The torch relay involves five cities: Beijing; Harbin, capital of Heilongjiang Province; Shenzhen; Chongqing; and Yibin, Sichuan Province.
The flame will then return to Chengdu and light the main cauldron of the Universiade when it officially opens on July 28.
The first torchbearer was Olympic champion, gymnast Zou Jingyuan.
“This is my first experience of being a torchbearer. It’s really awesome,” said Zou, a Sichuan native.
“To me, the torch represents not only the pursuit of ‘Faster, Higher, Stronger’ by tens of thousands of Chinese university students, but also the desire and expectation of the Sichuan people for the Universiade,” he added.
Other torchbearers in the first leg of the relay included Olympic shooting champion Yang Ling, table tennis legend Deng Yaping and university students.
In his video message, Eder also lauded the Chinese organizers for their “tireless efforts and hard work” though the Chengdu Universiade was postponed twice due to COVID-19.
“Despite these difficulties, the organizing committee has responded with remarkable efficiency and dedication ensuring high-quality event preparations,” said Eder.
“We have every reason to believe that the Chengdu 2021 FISU Games will be an exceptional event marked by the organizers’ extraordinary achievements and the attention to detail that they put in,” he added.
Chengdu, capital of Sichuan Province, is the third Chinese mainland city to host the biennial Summer University Games, following Beijing in 2001 and Shenzhen in 2011.
Athletes from universities across the globe are expected to compete for 269 gold medals in 18 sports.