History of university sports officially started in 1905 when the first international university games were held in the USA. In 1919 Jean Petitjean initiated the Confederation of Students, under the aegis of which the first World Student Games took place in Paris in May 1923. The following year saw the birth of the International Confederation of Students (ICS). Until 1939 eight more sporting events were organised by the students and the ICS. All the sporting events were mostly held in Europe. France was attributed the right to host the University Games three times, more than any other nation.
The Second World War interrupted these meetings, but when peace was restored, France re-launched the World University Games. Still, the shadow of the Cold War soon divided university sport. The International Students Union (ISU) was established in 1947. In 1949, although the International Students Union (UIE) organised the Games in which very few western countries participated, the International University Sports Federation (FISU), born the previous year in Luxembourg, under the impetus of Dr. Paul Schleimer, was officially founded and organised its first International University Sports Weeks.
Number of participating nations in previous Universiades
In 1959 International Students Union and FISU for the first time carried World University Games in Turin, where they got their present name of the Universiade. 965 young athletes from 45 nations of the world took part in the Games. In a year the city of Chamonix, France hosted the first Winter University Games that held 13 medal events. The 3rd Summer Universiade took place in Porto Alegre, Brazil and became the first University Games staged in a non-European country. Moscow became host city of the 7th Summer Universiade in 1973. At that moment it was the largest University Games ever held with a record number of 4,000 athletes competing in 10 sports. The 8th Summer Universiade in Rome was held within the World University Athletics Championship. Despite this, the competitions gathered 468 athletes from 38 countries of the world.
The Universiade has always been a grand event for Russia. Soviet athletes missed the University Game just once, in 1967, when the competitions took place in Tokyo. The USSR and Russia topped the overall standings 13 times at the Summer Universiades and 14 times at the Winter Universiades. Such outstanding athletes as Larisa Latynina, Valery Brumel, Valery Skvortsov, Tamara Press became repeat winners of the University Games events.
Over the last decade (2003 — 2013), the Russian national team topped the unofficial medal count five times: four times at the Summer Universiades (Kazan 2013, Belgrade 2009, Izmir 2005, Tarvisio 2003) and onсe at the Winter Universiade (Erzurum 2011). 739 medals were won by Russian athletes at the World University Games over the last decade.