Napoli 2019 Universiade gets under way in style

Mattarella opens World University Games at San Paolo stadium

04 July, 12:30

    (ANSAmed) - NAPLES, JULY 3 - The 2019 Summer Universiade got under way in style on Wednesday with President Sergio Matteralla declaring the Games open at spectacular opening ceremony at Naples San Paolo Stadium.

    Naples and the surrounding region of Campania are hosting the World University Games until July 14.

    Before a crowd of over 25,000 people, the show featuring 800 performers aged 12 to 60 from 19 nations started with fireworks and the mermaid Parthenope, who, according to legend, founded the city Naples.

    The mermaid - Italian apnea free diving world record holder Mariafelicia Carraturo - spouted from a set representing Mount Vesuvius and performed acrobatics while suspended in the air.

    Another mermaid rode a chariot of waves. "As mayor of Naples, I welcome all the athletes in this beautiful stadium but, above all, I welcome all you to the city of a thousand colours, of sport, of youth, of peace, of hospitality, to the city of love," said Naples Mayor Luigi de Magistris, who was booed by some in the crowd as he spoke and applauded by others.

    His address was followed by the parade of the athletes.

    The Argentine team got a particularly big cheer when one of their athletes waved the number 10 shirt of former Napoli and Argentina great Diego Maradona.

    The San Paolo crowd was also enthusiastic about the beauty and charming smile of woman competitor from the Kingdom of Eswatini.

    The French and German teams got a less warm reception but the atmosphere was joyous, with many athletes dancing and waving as they took up their places in a U shape in the centre of the stadium.

    Many of the nations' placards carried in by migrants and refugees who live in Naples after arriving in Italy on migrant boats.

    Organizers said the aim was to highlight the fact that Naples is a city of peace, hospitality and humanity.

    When it was Italy's turn, the passion reached a peak, with the whole stadium breaking out in song.

    Then there was a tribute to Italy, with Paralympic fencing gold medallist Bebe Vio, looking stunning in a 'volcano' red Armani dress, handing over the Italian tricolour to the Carabinieri police for the flag-raising ceremony. This was followed by more acrobatics on high.

    This time the performance recreated the famous decoration of the 'Tomb of the Diver' from the nearby ancient site of Paestum.

    Campania Governor Vincenzo De Luca gave an address and, like de Magistris, he was jeered by part of the crowd too.

    Then it was time for Mattarella to officially declare the 30th Summer Universiade open. Next came a choreography celebrating the sports being disputed at the Games set to techno music.

    Neapolitan rapper Anastasio, the winner of the last edition of X-Factor Italia, gave his remarkable interpretation of Pink Floyd's The Wall before the Universiade torch made its entrance.

    It was used to ignite a football that Napoli and Italy striker Lorenzo Insigne kicked to light the Games 'cauldron' and the whole of the stadium's Vesuvius.

    The Naples Universiade have broken new ground with an environmental 'cauldron', which uses light and special effects to 'burn' and uses no gas. The ceremony reached its climax with a performance by superstar Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli, whose set included Neapolitan favourite Funiculi, Funicula, and an explosive firework display.

    The show was produced by Marco Balich, the creative force behind many memorable Olympic closing and opening ceremonies of the past.

    His team are also in charge of the Universiade closing ceremony, which will also be at the San Paolo on July 14.

    The San Paolo, the home of Napoli soccer team, will also host the track and field events and it has been renovated for the World University Games, with new seats, lighting systems and the installation big screens.(ANSAmed).

    © Copyright ANSA - All rights reserved

    Business opportunities

    The information system of business
    opportunities abroad

    News from Mediterranean