2015 Summer Games Torch is lit at the Sorbonne in Paris

2015 Summer Games Torch is lit at the Sorbonne in Paris

PARIS - With 46 days left to the start of the 28th Summer Universiade, the torch lighting ceremony was held yesterday, 18 May, in the courtyard of the Sorbonne University in Paris, France. A highly symbolic place which had already hosted the lighting of the torch two years ago, to mark the start of the torch relay of the 27th Summer Universiade in Kazan (RUS) in 2013.

Lightning of the Torch: five students and Bartélémy Jobert, President of the Paris-Sorbonne University.

This time, the Korean University Sports Board, the Organizing Committee of the Gwangju Universiade and FISU, represented by its President Claude-Louis Gallien, were the guests of honour at this ceremony.

The date of the ceremony was not chosen randomly since it coincides with the celebrations of the democratic revolution of 18 May, during which the university city of Gwangju has played a leading role. The FISU President wanted to highlight this important fact during his speech:

FISU President Claude-Louis Gallien during his speech

“Paris and Gwangju, the ‘cities of light and culture’, are united to celebrate today, around the flame of the Universiade, ‘OH IL PAL’, the ‘5.18’, the anniversary of the memorable day of 18 May, 1980, during which students of the Jônnam National University in Gwangju rose up against the military dictatorship, and took the head of a movement aimed at defending democracy and the human rights.

This flame of the Universiade is the symbol of the will and the ability of student-athletes, today’s stars and tomorrow’s leaders, to build with pride their own future instead of passively endure an already outdated present.”

The Sorbonne University, as a location of this ceremony, is also a symbolic place. Indeed, the first World University Games were held in Paris in May 1923 by students of the Paris University Club. Two sports were on the programme, fencing and athletics. The Games brought together 200 participants from 12 countries of Europe and America. During the Games, an International University Sports Congress was held in the Richelieu room at the Sorbonne, under the chairmanship of the Secretary of State for Universities, Gaston Vidal, and the Rector of the University of Paris, Paul Appel. The conference proposed the sustainability of the World University Games, recommended the establishment of an International University Sports Federation (FISU) and focused on the fact that sport should be fully integrated into school and university curricula. The rest is history …

From Left to right: Philippe Boutry, President of the Paris 1 Panthéon Sorbonne University, Claude-Louis Gallien, FISU President and Bartélémy Jobert, President of the Paris-Sorbonne University

Professors Philippe Boutry, President of the University Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, and Bartélémy Jobert, President of the Paris-Sorbonne University, also obliged to highlight in their respective speeches, the importance of relations uniting students from France and Korea: “(…) in this city, students, teachers and researchers, visitors, artists and creators, actors from all sectors of professional life in Korea are so numerous and active and help to forge cooperative ties, reciprocity and warm friendships between our two countries and our two cultures, as evidenced by the dozens of students that we welcome each year within the walls of the Sorbonne. And as director of research I can personally testify that in return they bring us their intelligence and curiosity, their attention and humour, their energy and creativity. University and Universiade have indeed, in our language inherited from Latin, the same roots, which refers both to the universe as a space of relationships without borders and barriers, at the university as a place of knowledge, training and research and universality as a belief in the principles of community that are the guarantors of peace and development and respect for the freedom and rights of everyone.”

Eung Sik Kim, the GUOC Vice-President (left) receiving the torch from Claude-Louis Gallien, FISU President

Finally, Mr. Eung Sik Kim, Vice President of the Gwangju Universiade Organizing Committee 2015 (GUOC) thanked the academic authorities present for their warm welcome and invited students from around the world to participate at the 28th Summer Universiade, which represents for the city of Gwangju a great challenge to stage competitions for ‘today’s athletes and tomorrow’s leaders.”

From left to right Vincent Rognon, FFSU Director, Denis Masseglia, CNOSF President, Jean-François Sautereau, FFSU President and Claude-Louis Gallien FISU President

 It is important to mention the presence of Denis Masseglia, President of the French National Olympic Committee (CNOSF), at this ceremony. It demonstrates the interest of the CNOSF in federations governing school sport (UNSS) and University Sports (FF Sport U) in France. It’s very remarkable and reflects the positive attitude, shared by the NOCs in many countries, towards cooperation projects that are developed at an international level between the IOC, FISU and the ISF.

Taekwondo show in the courtyard of the Sorbonne University

After the speeches and a Korean cultural presentation the flame was lit in the courtyards of the Sorbonne by 5 student-athletes. The torch is now ready for its journey that will take it throughout Korea until the Opening Ceremony of the Universiade on 3 July, 2015.

Words and pictures Yvan Dufour, Editor-in-Chief

The academic authorities and the GUOC representatives at the end of the ceremony