An upbeat atmosphere
About 1,500 healthcare workers looked after the athletes, overseeing among other things the daily preparation of 25,000 meals from five different cuisines: the Serbian, the Mediterranean, the Continental, the Vegetarian, and the Muslim, i.e. the Halal cuisine. The University Village also provided its religious guests with a prayer room, while nearby anyone interested could learn more about the achievements of one of Serbia’s greatest scientists, Nikola Tesla.
Information booths were situated throughout Belgrade, while the capital also organised numerous tourist programmes, of which the most popular were tours of the city’s downtown, Fortress Kalemegdan, the Skadarlija Bohemian Quarter, the Ada Ciganlija sports park, the St. Sava Orthodox Cathedral, as well as panoramic views of the city from its two rivers – the Sava and the Danube – and from open-roof busses. In addition, those athletes who finished competing early on had free time to visit the Exit Music Festival, held annually in Novi Sad.
“Everyone was upbeat. The atmosphere in the University Village was great. The positive atmosphere could be felt everywhere, it was [visible] in everyone’s face,” said Ukrainian gymnast Anna Bessonova, the winner of bronze medals at both the Athens and Beijing Olympic Games. “I really like the people, they’ve been very kind to us,” added Paola Espinosa Milagros from Mexico, the winner of the bronze medal in synchronised diving at the Beijing Olympic Games.
The Universiade’s 7,500 volunteers deserve a special mention, as they played an indispensable role in the event, themselves taking home valuable experience.
“This was a great opportunity for us to practice foreign languages and to get to know different cultures from throughout the world,” said 16-year-old Milica Trivić, who along with her friends, created a work of art at the Crvena Zvezda Football Stadium, where track and field competitions took place. Milica and her team used photocopied hand pictures to create an interesting mosaic on one of the stadium’s walls. “Many athletes joined us. The Irish [joined] collectively. It was really nice,” said Trivić.
Having made friends with volunteers from Russia, Ivan Nedjić promised to visit them in Kazan, during the 2013 Summer Universiade. “I’ve really made a lot of friends. Everyone asks us how to find this or that around town. They mostly ask about well-known tourist locations, but one guy from China even asked me where Čubura [a neighbourhood in Belgrade] was, because he heard he could find very old dwellings in that part of the city and wanted to photograph them,” said 20-year-old Nedjić.