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Cozzoli: “The roof on Campo Centrale? The bidding process is on”

The Foro Italico as a city within the city, dedicated to sport and in constant growth, also at the service of Rome and its citizens. The venue that hosts the Internazionali BNL d’Italia is among the most fascinating in the world. To see it once again full of adoring fans, after two years of pandemic, will mark the first victory of this year’s edition of the tournament, explains Vito Cozzoli, president of Sport e Salute:

The first great news is that with the capacity of public back to 100%, it will feel like the great ‘old’ days at the Foro Italico with the fans as one of the protagonists of the tournament, with their passion, colours, and emotions. After two years, finally, the spectators return carrying the magic that makes this place, Rome and this tournament, a unicum in the world, almost a ‘Master 2000’. And it’s not us, Sport e Salute, to say this, but the players themselves, the champions, via their social media channels, interviews, and the way the live their time in Rome.

The return of the crowd feels like a successful bet, a reward for the efforts that were carried during the past two seasons. “President Binaghi had been saying this: during the past two years we did not take a break, we kept searching for new spaces for the fans, spaces that were fitting the rules but that would not break the continuity that the emotions from the previous editions of the tournament were carrying. I believe that we won this bet, together with FIT, because this year the stands will be full again and we will finally see the public walking around the whole venue. The partnership between Sport e Salute and Fit is particularly fructuous, precious, and valuable: we can see it here at the Foro Italico, but also in Milan for the Next Gen and in Turin for the Nitto ATP Finals.

Roma 20 Aprile 2021 Conferenza stampa di presentazione della 79a edizione degli Internazionali BNL d’Italia Vito Cozzolii, Valentina Vezzali e Angelo Binaghi Foto Giampiero Sposito

With the global pandemic finally looking more under control, the whole world is unfortunately in shock for the war going on between Russia and Ukraine and one cannot pretend not to see it. “Obviously, we do not want to forget the horror for an on-going conflict, and it will be remembered within the venue during the tournament, but we nonetheless want to celebrate the sport. The bond between the Parco del Foro Italico and the Internazionali di tennis is a certainty, and the ambition of Sport e Salute is to make the Foro Italico a unique home of sport in the world, a house for international and national sport. As a proof, during 2022 there will be 10 different sports events of various levels at the Foro Italico, and plenty of concerts at the Stadio Olimpico. I said this the very moment I joined this team: Federations are always welcome at the Foro Italico, this is their home, the doors of Sport e Salute are always open. Their answer came swiftly and now we can only but keep growing together.

Tennis, thanks also to the Internazionali BNL d’Italia, is becoming not only a high-quality show, but a chance to spread a healthy lifestyle to all age groups. “The interest from many sports federations allowed us to obtain the attention of institutions: in the next years the Foro Italico will have the fundings needed for various investments, for renovation and to reach out to the citizens of Rome in ways unseen in the capital and in the country. For the past two years we have started following this path with free tennis classes for the Over 65 together with health monitoring, open pools for the same age group during summer, tours of the Stadio Olimpico, open-air gym in the Grand Stand Arena, which evolved into the “Sport nei parchi” (sport in the parks) initiative across the whole of Italy. The Stadio dei Marmi is always open too. The Italian premiership and the government allocated conspicuous sums that, together with the ones of Sport e Salute, will allow a complete upgrade of the Foro Italico in terms of landscape, monuments and technology, making it become more green, sustainable and up-to-date. It is not by chance that last week we have inaugurated here at the Foro Italico the start-up accelerator “WeSportUp”, that will be visible to all visitors of the tournament.”  

Roma 20 Aprile 2021 Conferenza stampa di presentazione della 79a edizione degli Internazionali BNL d’Italia Vito Cozzolii, Valentina Vezzali, Angelo Binaghi e Nicola Pietrangeli Foto Giampiero Sposito

A burning topic for the past years has been the roof over the Campo Centrale. “Another big investment is the roof over the centre court, something that is close to the heart of president Bianghi, but to the one of Sport e Salute even more. This is because the roof would serve the city and its citizens beyond tennis. The bidding process has opened again. Last year I took this under my responsibility, and I kept faith to my word: the first 33 projects that had been presented following the last year’s edition of the tournament have already been checked and 7 of them have been shortlisted. By July, the one project that is most respectful of the monumental area of the Foro Italico will be chosen. This upgrade will be an added value for Rome, as assessor Onorato said: we want a city of sport that is more and more appealing for citizens and tourists 365 days per year.

The projects that promote sport and inclusion in the city of Rome are various. With the Parco del Foro Italico among the core places for them. “The goal is to make the Foro Italico a social ‘glue’ for a growing community. For this, it is particularly appreciated what President Binaghi said about the investments that the Federation wants to bring forward with the gains from the tournament, meaning a development in tennis and padel infrastructures. The goal of Sport e Salute is to make the Foro Italico more accessible, also socially. Following our mission, that during these days is manifesting across the whole country to guarantee the right to play sport. I want to thank the undersecretary Vezzali not only for her presence, but also for the support on what we are doing together to promote sport in the big cities, in the out-of-hand and rural areas thanks to projects like ‘quartieri’ (neighbourhood), ‘inclusione’ (inclusion), “sport nei parchi” (sport in the parks) and in the schools.

With such initiatives we can close the circle: from champions to occasional players and kids. For Sport e Salute this is not just a slogan, these are important facts, actions that we are taking. It’s reality. This is the kind of sport that Sport e Salute and the National State want to promote so that it will be everybody’s and for everybody: champions, youth, kids, and elderly.

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