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05 June 2019 | in Summer Universiade

Relay of the Universiade Flame off and running to Napoli 2019

With the ignition of the FISU Flame today in Torino, the torch relay is already igniting enthusiasm across cities and university campuses as a lead-up to the Napoli 2019 Summer Universiade



TORINO — Sixty years ago, this northern Italian city ushered in the inaugural Summer Universiade, an event so well-received by athletes, coaches and fans alike that it was a game-changer for university sport. With today’s torch lighting ignition and start of the Relay of the Universiade Flame, tradition was renewed in the lead-in to the Napoli 2019 Summer Universiade, which runs from 3-14 July.


In helping open the event, FISU President Oleg Matytsin noted how the torch relay works as a marquee, one that mobilises the University Sport Movement community in the lead-up to a Universiade.


“The biggest sports festival for student athletes of the world is back to the birthplace of the Universiade, sunny and hospitable Italy. As the motto of this edition of the Universiade says, it will be a unique event,” President Matytsin said. “Thousands of athletes from all over the world will experience fantastic culture and passion of Campania and Napoli as they perform at their very limit.”


Grazie a tutti! Avanti Italia, avanti Napoli!”

The torch relay lighting ceremony began with live performances that symbolised the heart of Campania and Piemonte, with an imaginary meeting of Mermaid Parthenope, the official mascot of the Napoli 2019 Summer Universiade.

A quartet of sports leaders and university rectors then joined the FISU President to conclude the on stage proceedings. One by one, they passed the original 1959 Summer Universiade before Mr. Matytsin lit the ceremonial Universiade bowl. With the dip of the Universiade torch, followed by the amber-orange whoosh light of ignition, the Relay of the Universiade Flame was off and running.


Torchbearers left the University of Turin and traversed down grand granite-lined boulevards and stately squares to the day’s final destination: the Castello del Valentino on the Polytechnic University of Turin campus.


From Torino, the Universiade Flame will make its way to the University of Lausanne this Thursday before returning back to Italy and reaching Milano by next Monday.


Yesterday’s rain gave way to sunshine on a bluebird coloured sky day fitting for an event that will finish on charasterically sunny southwestern Italian coast. Even the Alps just to the north of the city played their part, the white-tipped peaks were an understated reminder of the region’s importance in university sport circles, no matter the season.


Torino is not only the home to the first Summer Universiade; it is also the only city to host both the summer and winter event editions. Napoli will mark the 10th time Italy will welcome the world’s best student-athletes to town for a multi-day multi-sport event, five times apiece for summer and winter sports editions.


Among the most evocative moments of any Universiade, the Napoli 2019 torch relay route plays on the strengths and cultural landmarks of the host country. From Milano, the flame hopscotches its way south while taking in World Heritage Sites such as the Rome Colosseum and the Vatican, the latter to receive a solemn blessing from the Pope. In lesser-known locales, the route plays on the charm of local favourite spots.


The flame will continue as far south as Matera, this year’s European Capital of Culture, before heading back up for the final five stops in the Campania Region. This ‘tour inside the tour’ touches, in quick succession, the five cities (Avellino, Benevento, Caserta, Salerno, Napoli) where athletes will take to the field of play.

Mermaid Parthenope makes her first public appearance during the Relay of the Universiade Flame lighting ceremony

Two-time Olympic rowing champion Davide Tizzano was the first to hoist the Universiade 2019 torch. A lifelong Neapolitan, Mr. Tizzano is a sport operation manager for the Napoli 2019 organising committee. Local sporting champions Jessica Rossi, Marco Morello, Chiara Rebagliati and Walter Bottega also took turns carrying the Universiade Flame through the streets of Torino.


Joining the FISU President on stage for the opening proceedings were some heavy-hitters in the arenas of politics and sports governance. This included Fulvio Bonavitacola, Vice President of Regione Campania; Gianluca Basile, Extraordinary Commissioner of Napoli 2019; Gianmaria Ajani, Rector of the University of Turin; Guido Saracco, Rector of Polytechnic University of Turin; Chiara Appendino, Torino Mayor; Lorenzo Lentini, CUSI President; and Riccardo D’Elicio, President of CUS Torino.

The Universiade Torch is now on its way to the Napoli 2019 Summer Universiade

Even some sporting legends turned up in Torino. Among the crowd was Manuela Di Centa, a seven-time Olympic medalist in cross-country skiing. For Di Centa, the torch lighting was a can’t miss event.


“I strongly believe in the importance of sports and youth education, and I am working hard to promote and communicate these values beyond the single sports moments of the event,” said Di Centa, who is helping coordinate institutional sports relationships between the Napoli 2019 organisers and FISU, Campania Region, and other stakeholders like the Italian national Olympic and university sports federations.


“Combining university studies with elite sport takes a great sacrifice, but this is essential; first we are people, then we are athletes. The Universiade embodies this.”

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