Less than 100 days to go before EUG

Commissioned by European University Sports Association (EUSA), the next European University Games (EUG) between July 12 and 24, 2024, will be hosted jointly by Hungarian University and College Sports Association (Magyar Egyetemi-Főiskolai Sportszövetség - MEFS), the University of Debrecen, the University of Miskolc, National Event Management Agency, the City of Debrecen and the City of Miskolc. More than 5,000 participants from as many as 400 universities in 40 countries are expected to participate in this multi-sport event, which will feature competitions in 17 branches and divisions of sport in the two cities.

The sports event called European University Games is one of the world's largest multi-sport festivities, during which athletes from European universities compete against each other. This event is traditionally held every two years in a university city. Following the decision of European University Sports Association (EUSA) made at its 2018 General Assembly in Madrid, it is going to be the cities of Debrecen and Miskolc that will host the sixth series of the University Games, which will also be the largest sporting event in Hungary since the 1965 Summer Universiade.

“It is a great pleasure for us to be able to welcome and host the best athletes from our continent's universities in Miskolc and Debrecen this year. One of our key objectives in sports management is to increase the retention potential of sports in higher education. We aim to assist university students to have the opportunity to do sports apart from pursuing their studies and to become part of the ‘big family of sports,’ either as competitive athletes or as community sports participants. Events such as the European University Games help to achieve this goal by motivating young people to display their skills at the international level, while providing them with a real community experience at the same time," said State Secretary for Sports Ádám Schmidt.


The first event of this kind was held in 2012, bringing together more than 2,500 athletes from 154 universities in 32 countries. The second European University Games was hosted in Rotterdam (Kingdom of the Netherlands), with 34 countries and 174 universities present, delegating more than 2,800 participants. The third Games in Zagreb represented a ‘giant leap’ forward. By then, 388 universities from 40 countries participated with more than 5800 athletes. For the fourth occasion, the best practitioners of university sports gathered in Coimbra, Portugal, in the summer of 2018. In 2022, the city of Lodz in Poland hosted around 4,500 athletes from 417 universities in 38 countries. Now, Debrecen and Miskolc will face the task of making the sixth occasion of the Games the most memorable of all time.

Concerning the upcoming event, Balázs Hankó, State Secretary for Innovation, Higher Education, Vocational Training and Adult Education, declared that the initiative to reform higher education prompted by the universities had been taken so that our students could be the most successful of all.

“The success of the refurbished, competitive, flexible and autonomous Hungarian universities is best demonstrated by the fact that, while 5 years ago, only 7 of the Hungarian universities were ranked in the top 5% of the world's universities, the same figure today is 12. However, in addition to providing future-oriented knowledge, we also continue to pay special attention to university sports.”

For this purpose, we allocate HUF 2.5 billion a year and we also encourage our universities to simultaneously be centers of mass sports, to provide a background for competitive sports and even to support our best competitive athletes through tailored individual curricula available for them. It was also upon the initiative of our students that we introduced regular weekly physical exercise in all disciplines and majors. We have given special support to the European University Games, which were made possible by the excellent infrastructure of the University of Debrecen. We have provided the University of Miskolc with HUF 20 billion for sports and dormitory development, and a further HUF 2.2 billion for the organization of the Games. Our aim is that the largest international sports event held in Hungary so far should further spread the reputation of a competitive, flexible and autonomous Hungarian higher education to the nearly 450 participating universities through their 6000 competitors, prompted by the example of the Universities of Debrecen and Miskolc. Thus strengthening our reputation against our rivals, they should assist in ensuring that, by 2030, one of our Hungarian universities would be among the top 100 in the world and three of our institutions of higher education among the top 100 in Europe. Go Hungarian universities, go Hungarian students," said the State Secretary.

In addition to sports competitions, the University Games will also put considerable emphasis on the educational and social aspects of university sports through complementary supporting programs, workshops and other activities to promote inter-university relations. The legacy of the Games is to strengthen the institutional system of universities across Europe and contribute to the development of cities and their universities at the local level. Promoting this dual career model is of key priority for the organizers, and the focus of both the event and the preparatory phase of the Games will be on how sports and higher education can have a positive impact on each other and on the future of individuals. The slogan of the event (More than Games!) is also due to this insightful train of thought.

While commending the event, MEFS President Lajos Mocsai underlined that it would be of utmost importance for Hungarian University and College Sports Association (Magyar Egyetemi-Főiskolai Sportszövetség - MEFS) to continue to be an active member of both the European and the international university sports community.

“This is exactly why Hungarian university teams are regular participants in international sporting events. Since 2012, there has been an increasing number of Hungarian students in an increasing number of branches of sports taking part in the continental championships organized by EUSA as a result of the closer cooperation between MEFS and the individual universities. While in 2012, Hungary was represented by just 2 participants at the EUG, this year's event, hosted by us, will witness the largest ever delegation of nearly 500 participants representing Hungarian university sports. I believe that, like all multi-sport events, this is not only about sport, but also about community building.

Students are apparently looking for opportunities besides doing sports where they can relax and unwind in their own environment. That is the reason why we plan to offer a number of additional (educational and recreational) activities at the European University Games, so that the students can build relationships, hoping that the connections they establish through sports will be maintained and will have a decisive impact on their future lives. This is also why we have decided to make the slogan of the event ‘More than Games!’ It is a way of saying that this is not only about sport, but also about relationships and networking across sport, which we hope the student athletes participating in the EUG will be able to make use of in their own lives. So we are working together with the two universities and the two cities to make sure that the participants gain experiences that will last a lifetime, and I am sure that we will jointly achieve this goal.”

Regarding the European University Games, Zita Horváth, Rector of the University of Miskolc, said that the countdown had also started at the University of Miskolc.

 “We are eagerly looking forward to the start of the European University Games and we are preparing to welcome athletes, sports professionals and spectators from all over Europe. This is an important event for us, as it will be an opportunity to celebrate sporting achievements and also to show why the University of Miskolc is known as a campus of knowledge and community. With the opening ceremony drawing near, preparations are well underway at our institution and everything is in place for a memorable and successful Games. We believe that the European University Games could well be not only a celebration of sport, but also of culture and friendship. We intend to show the best of what Miskolc and the University of Miskolc can offer in less than a hundred days from today. We hope that everyone will get a chance to cheer together for our athletes.”

Zoltán Bács, the Chancellor of the University of Debrecen, highlighted that the presence of the Games in Debrecen would be a historic event, as Debrecen and the University of Debrecen would afterwards be forever noted in the list of organizers.

“This will definitely be the biggest event of its kind ever in Hungary, surpassing even the major world championships. The organizational tasks will gather speed in the last months of preparation to culminate in July. There is a lot of work and a great responsibility ahead of us, which the University of Debrecen will handle in the most efficient way with regard to its own tasks by keeping the interest of the success of the event in mind. We will work together with a huge crowd of local organizers to ensure that the thousands of visitors from hundreds of European universities should gain lasting memories and develop a fondness for Debrecen, including friendships, sports successes and the impression of a memorable closing event on the opening day of Campus Festival. We would like them to keep these pleasant memories for good and come back to us again later so that the student base of the University of Debrecen, which is currently the most international university in Central and Eastern Europe, should grow even stronger.”

According to Mátyás Falvai, CEO of National Event Management Agency (Nemzeti Rendezvényszervező Ügynökség), the European University Games occupies a prestigious place among the sporting events organized with the contribution of NEMA for several reasons.

“On the one hand, it is specifically about young people, but not only for young people, while it is also extremely diverse in terms of sporting disciplines, which gives the event a special flavor. On the other hand, it will be the result of a broad partnership and teamwork, so I am sure that it will be a refreshing addition to the summer sports season.”

As the registration deadline for the Games is drawing near, the number of participants signing up is becoming more and more definite. The high level of interest is demonstrated by the fact that the number of entrants in several branches of sport has reached and, in some cases, even exceeded the maximum capacity in a very short time. Nevertheless, there are still some divisions in which the organizers are expecting applicants for the remaining places.

The good news is that volunteers are also welcome for this fun, international summer event. In fact, the organizers are inviting applications from national and international volunteers for the July multi-sport event until the end of April. This event will provide an excellent opportunity for volunteers to gain experience and improve their foreign language skills in an international environment. Those wishing to join can register for the games at the official EUG2024 website.

Press Centre