As final preparations are being made for the 29th Summer Universiade due to start in Taipei on Saturday (August 19), the International University Sports Federation (FISU) President Oleg Matytsin is looking 10 years into the future.
While there have been a number of particular challenges associated with the upcoming international and cultural event that prides itself on being second only to the Olympic Games in size and stature, the challenge of deepening and securing that status in future years weighs at least as importantly on Matytsin.
"For me as FISU President, the upcoming Universiade is not only about competitions," he told insidethegames. "Very soon we will have our General Assembly, where, as we hope, we will adopt our new global strategy for the next 10 years.
"We will also discuss, and hopefully, adopt, important changes to our statutes, introducing age and terms limitations for elected FISU officials."
Fuller details of the FISU Global Strategy 2027 will be brought forward during the course of the General Assembly, set to be held on Thursday (August 17).
But Matytsin has offered some broad brushstroke indications of what the next decade will involve in terms of key FISU strategy. Asked where he would like the organisation to be in 10 years time, he responded: "This is very clear thanks to our new global strategy. We aim to find more ways of reaching out to the global student community, through direct university participation in sport, educational opportunities and other engagement initiatives.
"We want to continue organising world-class events, which are popular for students and spectators alike, increasing youth-focused sports programmes and the continued commercial success with FISU's partners.
"Just last week, we welcomed four new federations within our university sports movement as recognised sports. This is another step forward for the university sports movement, reaching more student athletes from a variety of sports across the world.
"Key challenges remain with global uncertainty, and the things that can distract young people from embracing sport. Even logistical challenges, such as hosting a Universiade in Taipei, could raise potentially problematic scenarios, but FISU has worked with all stakeholders to ensure the most successful festival of youth sport possible.
"Now, we have a video message from International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach, fantastic renovation of venues and the opportunity for the world to discover Taipei.
"We recognise these challenges and look past them to the opportunities ahead, like the International Day of University Sport. This day, September 20, is an annual occasion for FISU to help students discover new sports.
"So we know where we want to go. Now, we just have to execute on FISU's vision."
In the days leading up to the Taipei Summer Universiade 2017 - the latest incarnation of an event that began 58 years ago in Turin after precursor events of various titles that began back in 1923 - much of Matytsin's time has been occupied in attempting to unravel the awkward situation which left in the balance the chances of Russian athletes competing.
At the time of writing, that particular conundrum remained unresolved. But on the broad subject of his expectations for the upcoming event, Matytsin said: "To begin with, having a Universiade in this part of the world is a certain challenge for a number of reasons, and hot weather might not be the only issue. However, we firmly believe in the Universiade's value as a means of promoting cohesion and unity among all students and nations.
"I sincerely believe that this experience will help our student athletes to abandon their prejudices and see that people of all races, religions and political beliefs can be united by the power of sports. I believe that FISU and the Organising Committee are doing a great job to make this Universiade an unforgettable experience for every single athlete and fan.
"In terms of the event, there have already been some new elements, such as a Torch lighting ceremony in Torino, home of the first Universiade, using one of the original Torches.
"The look of Taipei has already caught the world's attention in a new way, too, for example the subway decoration throughout the city.
"There will continue to be new things throughout the Universiade, but I don't want to ruin the surprise!
"The Universiade has 14 compulsory sports and the Organising Committee can then select up to three additional sports. In Taipei this year we will see the addition of roller sports, billiards and wushu, a full contact sport derived from traditional Chinese martial arts.
"Taipei will have a lower number of sports than in Kazan four years ago, and I would say we have found a good balance. Perhaps it is partly because of this that FISU can see a healthy appetite for future hosting."
Whatever the final make-up of the field in Taipei, it will be possible to play the same engrossing game as at any Universiade - that of guessing who will excel at this level, and go on to excel at Olympic and world level.
"We know that many of our Universiade participants will go on to the Olympic Games and to World Championships in Olympic sports," Matytsin said. "For example, the French University Sports Federation (FFSU) recently communicated to say that 92 FFSU athletes competed at the Rio Olympics, winning 25 of the country's medals.
"The French will send 220 athletes to Taipei, so you can see a strong correlation between healthy university sport in a country and success at the Olympic Games."
Matytsin added: "South Africa's Wayde van Niekerk is a Universiade legend and now we have been watching him compete at the World Championships in London. Another athlete, the Polish hammer thrower Pavel Fajdek, came to London and added his third World Championship gold medal to the three Universiade titles he's won."
Among the list of illustrious former Universiade athletes is one Thomas Bach, who competed as a foil fencer either side of winning an Olympic team gold medal with West Germany - as Matytsin well recalls.
"Yes, he competed in Moscow in 1973 and in Mexico City in 1979," he said. "You would have to ask him for his memories, but as he said, each Universiade is an unforgettable experience, a moment of excitement which is shared by all athletes.
"I also would say with some pride that Dr Bach is the perfect example of how sport can positively shape leaders. Clearly he reached the pinnacle of his sport and was able to use success to positively shape his career. A world where the leaders of society are positively influenced by their university sport experience is the guiding vision of FISU. What Thomas Bach has achieved, both inside and outside the sports arena, is an embodiment of the FISU vision."
While FISU has been working to stabilise and optimise the numbers of athletes taking part in the Summer Universiade, it has also been developing new areas of competition for fully fledged expansion.
"We have also successfully launched the 3x3 World University League Series, which will have its third finals next month in Xiamen, China," Matytsin said. "Basketball is now the number one urban team sport in the world and FISU is integral to its growth. The most important thing for us is that we include relevant sports that students will engage with. Because of our success in basketball, other sports and cities are looking to partner with us because they recognise the reach of university sport."
At last month’s World Games in Wrocław, Matytsin met with Bach to discuss ongoing cooperation between their two organisations following the Memorandum of Understanding they both signed last year.
Asked what FISU can learn from the IOC in terms of best practice in sports competition management, Matytsin said: "Together, the IOC and FISU have the two biggest multi-sport events in the world. The lessons that we can share about managing complexity and minimising risk are very important. But the implications of our close work with the IOC go further than that.
"Without any doubt the IOC is a leader and a benchmark for all sports federations. The IOC's Agenda 2020 provides us with guidelines and directions to move forward. Olympic values are what we try to teach our student athletes, as they are a vital part of our core mission.
"In more practical terms, we would like to create a model of relations similar to that of the IOC with its National Olympic Committees. For that reason we are looking at opportunities to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with the Association of National Olympic Committees. Many of our Member Federations are also members or closely associated with their respective NOCs.
"We believe that NOCs and national university sports federations share a common goal of promoting sports, and for that reason we would like to see more practical cooperation between them.
"We also look at the IOC's experience of bidding campaigns, as finding host cities can be a challenge for federations, given the current economic situation. The rotational principle of a sports programme and inclusion of new sports in the programme are also a case to study for us. We believe that our Universiades are a perfect testing ground for prospective Olympic sports, as we have seen with roller sports, snowboarding and freestyle."
In terms of outlining what the IOC can learn from FISU, Matytsin responded: "In general, there are only a limited number of opportunities to witness complexity in action, especially for winter sport. So it was no surprise to see Organising Committees for the Olympic Winter Games join us earlier this year in Almaty for the FISU observer programme.
"The Tokyo 2020 Olympic Committee will also be in Taipei for FISU's observer programme to build on everything it learned last year in Rio. But this is a two-way road as we are always enthusiastic about participating in observer programmes of the Olympic Games organisers."
Both organisations, however, are turning their collective minds to the narrative that goes on beyond competition for all athletes.
"Providing a platform for athletes to seek development and success is at the core of what FISU does, both on and off the field of play," Matytsin said. "This can be the difference between a FISU event and any other sports events. The IOC is now starting to move in this direction, with their IOC space inside the Olympic Village during Games-time.
"A big part of increasing dual careers and setting athletes up for more successful career transitions is changing the mind-set of coaches, parents, sports communities and the athletes. They must have the confidence that they can successfully combine studies or other pursuits outside of sport and still compete at the highest levels of sport. FISU provides the proof of this.
"We also plan to start a new project in cooperation with the IOC, named FISU ambassadors. The idea is to engage current and former star athletes, even with no academic background, in regular meetings with students in university campuses all over the world. I think those meetings can be inspirational not only for the audience, but for the athletes themselves as they will experience the unforgettable atmosphere and energy of a student crowd.
"But the main reason, of course, is to make students familiar with professional sport and the people who embody best practice. We've already had initial talks with the IOC sports departments and Athletes' Commission on this matter."
For now, however, all thoughts are turning towards the imminent General Assembly and Universiade. What, one wonders, have been Matytsin's favourite personal moments from the Universiades he has already witnessed?
"There have been really many of them," he said. "I will never forget the Opening Ceremony of 2015 Winter Universiade in Štrbské Pleso, Slovakia. As you know this was a challenging time in terms of world politics. During the athletes' parade, delegations from Russia, Ukraine and the US were marching together. It was so exciting to see them as one cheerful smiling crowd.
"The recent Universiade in Almaty was also a moment to remember. Standing in front of a roaring crowd, with numbers in their thousands for the Closing Ceremony - that feeling literally gives you goosebumps."