The sell-out crowd have been promised a spectacular Opening Ceremony featuring over 1000 performers as the arrival of the torch into the San Paulo Stadium will herald the beginning of the Napoli 2019 Universaide.
The Universiade, or University Olympiad, is a bi-annual multidisciplinary sporting event for university athletes from all over the world. The term “Universiade” is drawn from “university ” and “Olympiad” and embodies one of the basic concepts of every form of sport: universality.
This event has increasingly assumed the characteristics of a real international festival of sport and culture over the years. To many it is now second only to the Olympic Games in terms of importance and number of participants, and in its summer version (Summer Universiade) equivalent is on a par if not higher than the Winter Olympics.
The Universiade in its modern and current form was conceived by the Italian sports director Primo Nebiolo who organised the first edition in Turin in 1959 with 985 athletes competing. It is therefore fitting that the event returns to Italy for its 60th anniversary which has drawn nearly 6000 competitors to Naples ready to participate in the 30th edition of the event.
Naples is the third Italian city in terms of population size and is known worldwide for its history and for the cultural, historical and naturalistic riches of the surrounding area. Most venues are located in Naples but the nearby cities of Caserta, Benevento, Nocera Inferiore and Avellino are also playing host to further reflect the region’s great sporting tradition.
The host nation have the largest delegation with a 437-strong team, but they will be closely followed in terms of numbers by the United States and Russia who are sending 371 and 275 athletes respectively. At the other end of the scale, Monaco are the smallest delegation present, having sent just one team member. Female competitors will represent Saudi Arabia for the first time, with Kosovo making its Universiade debut.
The slogan of the 30th Summer Universiade is #ToBeUnique and nothing about Napoli 2019 lives up to this moniker more than the Athletes’ Village; set aboard two luxury cruise ships at Stazione Maritima, a stone’s throw from the Royal Palace with the illustrious Mount Vesuvius in the background, across the Gulf of Napoli. In total, 2,114 delegates from 71 countries will stay on board the MSC Lirica during the Universiade, while 1,888 participants from 38 nations will call the Costa Victoria home. Both ships are part of Italian-based Costa Cruises. Officials and dignitaries from FISU, CUSI (Italian Student Sports Association), the Region of Campania and the City of Napoli were on site last Friday afternoon for the official opening of the unique village, which is one of three athletes’ villages to be used during the event’s anniversary edition.
A total of 220 medal events across 18 different sports ranging from archery to water polo, fencing to tennis and volleyball will be competed for during the course of the next 11 days from 3 to 14 July 2019. In fact ahead of the Opening Ceremony, the sporting action has already begun with qualifying events in diving, football and water polo taking place, before the first medals are due to be awarded on Thursday (4 July) in diving, fencing, artistic gymnastics, judo, shooting and swimming.
This continues until Sunday (7 July), when the first of the taekwondo medal events take place. Athletics is scheduled to start a day later before podium places become available in archery, tennis, volleyball, football, rhythmic gymnastics and sailing on 12 July, with the final medals expected to be awarded in water polo on 13 and 14 July.