To strains of "Arrivederci Roma" on the accordion, the leader of the International Federation of University Sports boarded a private plane Thursday and left Buffalo without dropping a hint whether the city might win its bid to serve as host of 1993 World University Games.
But members of the local organizing committee said they remain highly confident, noting that Primo Nebiolo, federation president, had visibly warmed to the area during his 2 1/2 days here.
"We paid a visit to have an idea," said Nebiolo, who with two other federation representatives from Italy scouted the Buffalo area to determine whether it adequately could stage competition for 7,000 athletes. "Until June 16 and 17, I cannot say anything. I will tell my colleagues that I have found a beautiful city."
Two cities -- Shanghai, China, and Fukuoka, Japan -- are competing with Buffalo to become host for the Games. A final decision will be made by the federation's 23-member council during the June 16-17 meetings in Duisburg, West Germany.
"I feel good about the visit," said Burt P. Flickinger Jr., chairman of the local organizing committee.
"I think we impressed his group very much. In general, he thought our facilities were excel lent. He saw we were serious and well-organized, and he saw that the community is behind us."
The local committee spent 18 months planning and preparing for the visit by Nebiolo, who has held his position as president of the Internation Federation of University Sports since 1961. The committee considers securing his vote as crucial to landing the Games for Buffalo.
Flickinger said Nebiolo expressed some concerns about the accommodations planned for the athletes. Originally, the University at Buffalo was expected to house them all in its sprawling Ellicott Complex, much like an Olympic Village.
The local organizing committee thought that the Ellicott Complex was a strong selling point in terms of security, since all the athletes would be in one location. But Nebiolo apparently thought that too many athletes would be crowded into individual rooms at UB. He told the committee that he would not be opposed to having other area colleges provide additional housing.
In an earlier interview, Nebiolo said he thought that the government was supporting the bid for the Games in Shanghai, but that in Buffalo, it seemed as if the university was the primary supporter of the effort.
"To a certain extent, he's right," Flickinger said. "Here, the focal point is the university. Our funding is not automatic, as it is in communist countries. We must work with our leaders."
During Nebiolo's visit, state and federal governments showed support for the Games. During a luncheon, Nebiolo received a telephone call from Lt. Gov. Stan Lundine, and during a dinner, U.S. Housing Secretary Jack F. Kemp called him from the White House.
"I think we impressed upon him (Nebiolo) how much we want the Games," Flickinger said. "And I think the calls changed his perception somewhat."
A slick, four-color promotional publication on Buffalo -- in both French and English -- is being prepared. Also due to arrive in Duisburg is a short but splashy video that the local organizing committee hopes will end with a message from President Bush.