A large polystyrene cutout with '200' written on it draws the attention of transit passengers at the Naples central station. Those not on departing trains stop and look. Some 200 days remain until the Universiade 2019 begin in Naples, set to run July 3-14, 2019. To promote the event in an area made available by Grandi Stazioni were both well known athletes and up-and-coming youths.
On the tatami set up for a Taekwondo demonstration was Mauro Sarmiento, who won a silver and a bronze medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and the London 2012 ones, as well as a medal i two Universiade (Izmir 2005 and Bangkok 2007). Alongside him were youths from five Taekwondo clubs in Naples and the surrounding province. During the morning, other sports stars and one from the entertainment field came out in support of the Universiade: from the holder of the world record in apnea Mariafelicia Carraturo and the world junior judo champion Christian Parlati - who is expected to take part in the upcoming Universiade - as well as the Un Posto al Sole actors Francesco Vitiello, Raffaele Imparato and Amato D' Auria.
Overseeing it was Special Commissioner for the Universiade Gianluca Basile. "It is just behind the corner now," he said. "We are racing as fast as we can. We have worked on the bases, the most important things and those that are needed to ensure that the event takes place. There is a great deal to do in a short amount of time but there is no longer any doubt that the Universiade will be held." But some things are missing to be able to say that it is ready.
"We have resolved the accomodation issue. Many work sites have just opened. The challenge now is to ensure that the timelines are complied with. There is still work to be done at the work sites and we still need to do what the International University Sports Federation (FISU) has asked of us in terms of promoting the event. But we can say that phase 2 will start from January. We have opened all the work sites, ensured the lodgings, bidding is underway transportation and now we must work on services." The municipalities are also doing their share in the team work.
"I must say," Basile noted, "that after the last meeting on November 23, there was an acceleration by all those involved." He added that "I would like to point out that, since the very beginning ARU's choice - at that time under Professor Pasquino - to not to get involved in building new facilities but to instead focus on working on existing one was an important one. Now that time is of the essence, this initial strategic choice is paying off despite the time lost." From now until July, marketing events will multiply.
"There will be other events and we will be replicating today's format in Italy's other major stations. We have to hold them in collaboration with FISU, which is asking us for communication (activities, Ed.) at the international level to highlight Naples as well. And FISU is helping us a great deal with daily assistance." Also on the way are "professionals that we are selecting", Basile said, "who will soon become part of the organization, and (there will be) other contracts for specific roles that will soon be signed."