events & legacy

Interview with Raffaele Chiulli, President, GAISF

Dec 11, 2019

“We wanted the World Urban Games to be a truly complete celebration of urban culture. This started with sport, but we also had live music from some of the biggest urban acts in the world.”

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In September, the first inaugural edition of the World Urban Games (WUG) was held in Budapest. What was the vision of GAISF at the genesis of this event?

The vision was to be the ultimate global showcase of a new generation of urban sport, and we saw this realised in Budapest. Not only did we gather the world’s most elite athletes from a diverse and engaging range of urban sports, but we also created a venue that encouraged participation.

It was amazing to walk around the World Urban Games Park and see young people trying out the latest tricks on their skateboards and scooters, or receiving a breaking master class from some of the athletes.
The Games created an opportunity to inspire, and to turn that inspiration into participation. We believe that this was achieved and look forward to doing even better next time!

The mission of GAISF is to help IFs develop and showcase their sport. How was the collaboration with IFs in developing the sports programme of the WUG?

The World Urban Games, and all of our multi-sport events, are created for the benefit of the International Federations.

Our goal is to provide a global platform for IFs to highlight their sport or discipline as part of a major multi-sport event, also to learn together. The lessons are then shared not only with the IFs on the programme of the WUG, but with all of GAISF’s 125 members.

Throughout the development of the Games, we consulted with the IFs to ensure that they felt represented. We are now in the process of getting feedback from them, as well as the athletes, to ensure we put their comments and suggestions into the planning for the 2021 edition.

Designing events to fit cities’ needs and visions is the new trend in sport. How was the collaboration with Budapest in co-creating this inaugural edition?

The City of Budapest and the Local Organising Committee were instrumental in the success of the Games. From the moment the Games were awarded to Budapest, we have had an aligned vision and worked in tandem together to produce an incredible urban festival of sport, music, art and culture. This kind of alignment is exactly what ensures the best possible outcomes for both the International Federations and also the city. And delivering the best possible outcomes is what ensures that our events will be attractive and sustainable in the long term.

I would like to thank the Budapest Team for their commitment and dedication to the Games and hope to work with them again in the future.

Youth’s physical activity and sport activity are decreasing. How do you think WUG can contribute in attracting young people and getting them more active?

We saw the enthusiasm that young people have for sport. It is clear, and this is not just in Budapest. This can and should be the case all over the world. It is our responsibility, as GAISF and as International Federations, to create exciting opportunities that engage young people and lead them back to sport.

We do have to remember that young people see themselves as being multi- talented, and rightly so. Certainly, this is something that we recognised with the World Urban Games. We had participants that saw themselves as athletes, as DJs and as street artists: all in the same person and all in the same day! Most young people are also, by necessity, photographers, filmmakers and storytellers, as they capture and share their lives. With the World Urban Games, we learned how important it is to recognise and celebrate all of these other aspects of young lives, in addition to sport, so that we can make sure the sporting element is as attractive as possible.

The WUG is not only a sport competition, but also a cultural programme. How do the different activities offered to the public complement one another?

We wanted the World Urban Games to be a truly complete celebration of urban culture. This started with sport, but we also had live music from some of the biggest urban acts in the world. Over three days, more than 130 pieces of street art were produced.

Even, the venue itself – an old market hall
from the 1930’s that had been abandoned – is authentically urban and provided the perfect setting for the inaugural edition
of the Games.

How would you describe this first edition’s outcomes (participation, finances, media coverage)?

I am certain that this was a great start for the World Urban Games. We brought together the world’s best athletes, and they have been very complementary in their feedback, which is hugely important to us. After all, athletes are at the heart of what we do. We recorded a total attendance of 50,000 people, which exceeded our initial expectations. And we have had great media coverage. From Eurosport and the BBC, to Reuters and the New York Times, the whole world has seen the success of the World Urban Games.

GAISF decided to award the second edition 2021 of the WUG to Budapest. What is the added value of Budapest as a host city for the WUG?

This is not yet confirmed – we are still in discussions with Budapest about the 2021 edition and will announce the outcome of these discussions in due course.

On a personal note, could you share your best memory of this first edition of the WUG?

There was a wonderful moment when I walked through the Market Hall, and I experienced the joy of the young people trying out new sports. All around me, kids were engaging. There was breaking, flying disc, basketball, parkour and skating. And the smiles on the parents’ faces, as their children expressed themselves physically were a real joy. It was incredible – how sport should be.


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