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Conference "Investment in sport, counter-cyclical investment", the importance of exercise

21Investing in sport in order to promote development and well-being. A clear message, given from the business point of view and highlighted by the converging institutional intentions. The unavoidable basis for change drives the country, with courage and initiative, focusing on exercise: it is the common denominator emerging from the conference "Investment in sport, counter-cyclical investment." The round table hosted in CONI's Hall of Honour and moderated by the Director of Sky Tg 24, Sarah Varetto, saw Chairman Giovanni Malagò do the honours in the presence of the Under-secretary of the Presidency of the Council of Ministers with delegation for Sport, Graziano Delrio, from the Ministry of Health, Beatrice Lorenzin, the President of CONI Sicily, Sergio D'Antoni, with the participation of the President of the Court of Auditors, Raffaele Squitieri, the President of Technogym, Nerio Alessandri, business economist Marco Vitale, and the Head of New Media and Ferrero sponsorship, Massimo Castiglia.

The lively debate, conducted in two phases, was opened by Marco Vitale, who stressed that "culture, health and sports are three areas where investments do not give immediate results. Hence the mentality that sees these activities only as costs when they are actually factors of well-being". Nerio Alessandri stressed that "a policy should be conveyed that encourages the practice of sport: it cannot be considered a luxury to do sport in Italy, the standards have to be changed. At the EXPO we will provide Wellness as an example of lifestyle, we have created the Technogym Village in Romagna which is able to combine health prevention and wellbeing. The successful model to be pursued to make our country a reference point and to attract tourists and talent".

Raffaele Squitieri has called for reflection on how "reducing investment in sport is an error because it penalises an industry that is a driving force behind a healthier life and one which reduces health care costs, as well as being a sociological reference point". Massimo Castiglia di Ferrero wanted to highlight his company's alliance with the world of sport "because the sector can bring obvious benefits to the country".

The Under-secretary Graziano Delrio then opened the second phase of the debate. "Sport can change the destiny of a country. It is a cost but we pay a high price for inadequate lifestyles. For this reason, in cooperation with CONI we decided to invest in schools through the "Class Sports" Project. Then there is the initiative of a thousand sports facilities in a thousand days, which we will present to the President Renzi. We need private enterprise, European development funds, and mainly Credito Sportivo (sports credit loan): we need structures, particularly in the South where it is well known that there are fewer facilities".

The Minister Beatrice Lorenzin analysed the importance of the benefits of sport for healthcare. "The factors that influence the predisposition to cancer are, in first place, smoking, in second place, alcohol, in third, food and in fourth, sedentary lifestyle. That is why sport is one of the main elements of prevention".

The speech by CONI President, Giovanni Malagò, lastly identified a number of worrying figures linked to physical inactivity and childhood obesity in our country. “The average Italian statistics show that 22.2% of the population is overweight, while 12.6% is in the range of obesity, with a strong emphasis on the problems in the Southern Regions. Not to mention that a sedentary lifestyle affects 42%. The problem is reflected in the physical aspect, because they are at risk of developing cardiovascular and metabolic diseases. In these scenarios, the role of sport as a preventive activity becomes crucial. We are in a historic moment, we have to create the turning point. It does not fall within the CONI Statute but I feel this is my mission. Each percentage point of a sedentary lifestyle that is reduced becomes a saving of 200 million in healthcare. The impact of sport on the GDP is around 1.6%, but we have great potential. We have to transfer the concept of sports culture to 60 million Italians".

Sergio D'Antoni focused on how important it is to "invest in sport in order to have a positive impact on all fronts. And in that sense it is essential to create events to promote this trend".

The closing of the conference was entrusted to the words of the Minister Lorenzin and the Under-secretary Delrio. "Compared to the past, styles and habits have changed. Abroad there are investors who want to come to Italy because we are synonymous with quality. However, we must gain an awareness that improving the quality of life means exponentially increasing the country's development and simultaneously the GDP. What is needed is an alliance between families, municipalities, sports associations, CONI and the Government to bring about substantial benefits".

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