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University Sports: Embracing a Colorful World and Jointly Creating a Better Future

chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2023-08-01 19:50

-- Keynote Speech at Chengdu FISU World Conference
Huai Jinpeng, Minister of Education of the People's Republic of China
(July 29, 2023)

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
Dear friends,

Greetings to you all.

The long-awaited Chengdu FISU World Conference officially kicks off today. First of all, on behalf of the Ministry of Education of China, please allow me to extend a warm welcome to the FISU family, delegates to Chengdu FISU World University Games, representatives of the International Olympic Committee, and the experts and scholars attending this academic event.

Since the FISU World Conference was first held in 1960, it has been committed to building a platform for international academic exchanges and cooperation, constantly enriching and developing innovations in university sports theories and practices, and has played an important role in promoting the development pattern of mutual learning, integration and collaborative innovation of global university sports. Under the theme of "Embracing a Colorful World and Jointly Creating a Better Future", the conference of this year will promote academic exchanges, policy dialogues, experience sharing and cultural display of university sports worldwide, so as to actively explore new paths and new schemes for the healthy and sustainable development of global university sports. It will surely deepen sports exchanges and cooperation, achieve consensus on sports development and reform, boost confidence in global win-win cooperation, and create a better future for university sports.

Ladies and gentlemen, dear friends,

Once the university in the modern sense was born, it served as the beacon and spiritual home of human civilization. Despite of thousands of years of hardships, it becomes more and more brilliant and plays an increasingly important role in social progress and development. In the process of university modernization, university sports, with its functions of strengthening physical health, perfecting personality, strengthening willpower, stimulating potential and promoting people's all-round development, comes into being. It is now an integral part of university education.

Chinese government has always put people's health as a strategic priority, and attached great importance to the development of university education. President Xi Jinping stresses that the educational concept of health first should be insisted, and schools should improve sports education, balance academic studies and physical exercises, so as to enable students to have fun in taking exercises, strengthen their physical health, personality and willpower. We actively innovate the concepts, methods and forms of university sports development, and promote the continuous expansion of university sports system, the improvement of quality and functions as well as the increasingly reasonable structure. Universities have been empowered by sports in fulfilling their role of educating people. Four characteristics are mainly manifested:

First, we attach great importance to the synergy between "sports" and "health". Insisting on developing students' all-round qualities of sound moral grounding, intellectual ability, physical vigor, aesthetic sensibility, and work skills, universities keep improving students' physical and mental health as the principle of "health first" indicates. We have continuously improved the system and governance mechanism of university sports, and issued a series of institutional norms such as the Basic Standard of Sports Education in Higher Education Institutions. "Strengthening university students' physical fitness and health" is an important standard for higher education. The physical health of university students has become a significant dimension in quality monitoring and evaluation of higher education. Sports empowers young people's health and supports the high-quality development of higher education.

Second, we are committed to the combination of "physical education classes" and "extracurricular sports programs". Courses of physical education serve as the engine of university sports. We make efforts to build a functional and updated course system with both compulsory and optional classes as well as extracurricular programs. The courses are prominently diversified and interest-oriented. While improving the quality of courses, we vigorously promote regular competitions to take root on campuses with wider participation, lead mass sports in an all-round way with various university competitive sports, and continue to provide support for the all-round growth of young people.

Third, we pay special attention to "popularization" and "improvement". We adhere to "sports for all" and keep improving the university sports competition system. On average, more than 100 national university students' sports competitions are held every year in China, involving over 1,000 universities. Sports is regarded as a basic right for every student. The Chinese University Basketball Association (CUBAL) has become a hot topic catching public attention nationwide. Besides, by strengthening the fusion of sports and education, we enhanced the training effect of high-level college athletes. The Chinese delegation to the Tokyo Olympic Games owned 252 university athletes from 72 Chinese universities, of which 48 won gold medals, 32 won silver medals and 15 won bronze medals. It injected strong impetus and vitality into the development of competitive sports.

Fourth, we actively promote "opening up" and "integration". China has been deeply engaged in international university sports events and hosted FISU Games for several times, making significant contributions to the development of international university sports. We promote international exchanges of university sports, actively participate in global university sports education, and take it as an essential sector under high-level people-to-people exchanges mechanism. Chinese youth deem sports as a bridge, culture as ties to enhance mutual understanding, communication and friendships with their peers worldwide.

Ladies and gentlemen, dear friends,

Nowadays, we are experiencing the changes of the world and of our times. Challenges keep emerging and risks are increasing during the process of social development. Countries around the world are in urgent need to communicate, understand and cooperate with each other. People-to-people exchanges have become an important approach for the world to seek peaceful development and create shared benefits. Sports boasts unique advantages in people-to-people exchanges. It is rooted in our shared aspirations of improving health and pursuing excellence, and is the best way to enhance mutual understanding among countries. Sports exchanges are needed to cope with the changes of the world and realize common prosperity.

With the rapid development of digitalization and artificial intelligence, digital technology has increasingly become the driving force for reshaping human society in all directions. Empowered by digitalization, university sports have increased its development potentials, enriched the innovation mode, and improved the service efficiency. The emergence of new forms such as digital sports and smart sports lead to new space for the development of school sports. However, the digital age is also profoundly changing the way of our production, life and learning. Subsequent problems such as Internet addiction, mobile phone dependence and information cocoons, bring challenges to young people's physical and mental health as well as the development of university sports. The faster digitalization develops, the more dependent human beings are on digital technology, the more important sports are in promoting individual perfection, communication and social harmony. It is urgent for us to carry forward the sports spirit, give full play to the unique functions of sports and realize the benign interaction between scientific and technological progress and people's all-round development.

As a country with the world's largest higher education system, China will pay more attention to the development of university sports, making best endeavors to promote global university sports development, to make greater contributions to the common cause of promoting global peace and development. We advocate that:

University sports should contribute to the all-round development of human beings and help young people excel.

University sports should shoulder the mission and responsibility of serving the all-round development of young people, not only for their physical health but also for mental well-being. It should cultivate their resilience, foster excellent moral quality, and help them to establish proper values plus outlooks on life and the world. This will raise their capacities for social interaction and inclusion, enhance innovation and positive leadership, thereby enable them to obtain personal fulfillment with self-confidence, self-challenging and transcendence.

University sports should be accessible to all and make development more fair. Equality is the basic principle of modern education development, and universal benefit is an important feature of it. University sports should improve fairness, comprehensiveness, inclusiveness, and sustainability of its development, break through the boundaries of nations and countries, realize cross-language, cross-cultural and cross-border communication and sharing, so as to make high-quality university sports resources benefit young people all over the world, and to ensure their equitable rights and opportunities of all-round development.

University sports should be committed to digital innovation and make the future more dynamic. University sports should actively embrace digital transformation, promoting digitalized resources, intelligent management, tailored training and achievements sharing, so as to take the lead in realizing digital transformation. We should meet the challenges of digital technologies to the free and personalized development of human beings, persist in the original aspirations of education, stick to the essence of sports, carry forward sportsmanship, help young people improve their physical fitness, improve their individual growth, temper their willpower, and make digital technology and humanistic spirit deeply integrate in sports transformation. In addition, the digital achievements of university sports should benefit young people from all over the world more continuously and effectively, widely stimulate the vitality of social innovation, and constantly promote the progress of human civilization.

University sports should be committed to cooperation and exchanges and make the world more open. Countries around the world should adhere to multilateralism, push forward exchanges, sharing, support and cooperation in the field of university sports, and jointly improve the global university sports governance system. In terms of cultural exchanges and mutual learning, we should promote mutual trust on the basis of mutual respect, enhance the diversity and fusion of world university sports cultures, so as to contribute to social progress and world peace.

Ladies and gentlemen, dear friends,

Looking back on the past, FISU World Conference has developed for over 60 years and played a crucial role in promoting the development and progress of university sports in the world. Looking ahead, we expect FISU World Conference to gather wisdom and resources in a wider range, promote dialogue and cooperation more vigorously, and achieve greater results in promoting sports value, enhancing sports exchanges and tackling common challenges.

"Boundless is the ocean where we sail with the wind". Promoting the healthy and sustainable development of university sports is an urgent need and inevitable choice in response to the concerns of global youth development. Let's join hands and share the mission, taking sports as a bridge for young people of different countries and languages, so as to embrace a colorful world and jointly creating a better future.

Thank you!

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