Bye-bye Beijing, we look forward to seeing you in Milan-Cortina. The 24th edition of the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games closes with a historic handover with Italy bringing the five-ringed flag back to Europe for the next Winter Games in 2026. The third hosted by our country after Cortina 1956 and Turin 2006.
The Chinese edition ended for the Italian team under the banner of personal records - including that of Arianna Fontana, who, with the gold and two silver medals won in China, reached 11 medals and became the Italian woman with the most medals in the history of the Games - and team records, with the expedition led by CONI President Giovanni Malagò and General Secretary and Head of Mission Carlo Mornati, who returned home with a haul of medals (17) second only to that obtained in Lillehammer 1994.
At the Bird's Nest, the only stadium to host four opening and closing ceremonies (it was also the venue for the 2008 Beijing Summer Games), the Italian flag-bearer, Francesca Lollobrigida, the first Italian medallist in the history of speed skating (silver and bronze here in China), makes her entrance immediately after the Chinese home team, while the tricolour team enters the stadium second-to-last among the 91 competing countries.
Italy will receive the baton from China to organise the next Games.
First, however, there is to celebrate the protagonists of this Asian edition, the third if you consider Pyeongchang 2018 and the summer Tokyo 2020, the second in the Covid 19 era.
Arianna Fontana has her recognition by flanking IOC President Thomas Bach on behalf of the European athletes.
A celebration for the most decorated short track skater in history and a certificate of appreciation for an Italy that has to smile for the two gold, seven silver and eight bronze medals won by the 19 Italian medallists.
Indelible joys confirm us among the greatest and make us dream ahead of the Games at home.
The eyes of the world are all on our country: there is a desire to see the Olympics again in the Alps and to bring the five-circle event back to where winter and ice sports have a centuries-old tradition.
The show curated by Marco Balich gives a foretaste of what is to come: they will be sustainable, inclusive and environmentally friendly games. 'Duality together is' the chosen motto.
The Olympic flag passes from the mayor of Beijing. It is entrusted by Bach, for the first time in the history of five circles, to two mayors, Beppe Sala (Milan) and Gianpietro Ghedina (Cortina), under the gaze of the Undersecretary with responsibility for sport, Valentina Vezzali.
The Tricolour waved in the Olympic Stadium, accompanied by Mameli's anthem performed by Malika Ayane and violinist Giovanni Andrea Zanon. At the same time, the Bel Paese showcased the best it has to offer. A video message in Chinese from the Governors of Lombardy, Attilio Fontana, and Veneto, Luca Zaia, invites the world to Italy.
Expectations are high, but our country will certainly be ready with its champions. Bye-bye Beijing, we look forward to seeing you in Milan-Cortina.