The Italian Flag has returned to the Quirinale. Mattarella: you have represented the Country with prestige
- Published: 27 March 2018
The pride of a moment that is a unique tradition. As special as the smiles of the medal-winners, as extraordinary as the excitement relived in flash-back, savouring those vibrations that shake the soul yet again: the unforgettable successes that marked the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in PyeongChang. The important ceremony restoring the Italian flag to the Quirinale was the best opportunity for closing the circle, indeed the 5 circles, full of the event's magic and interwoven with the medals won by the Italian team. Today the Olympic and Paralympic athletes who won medals in South Korea were welcomed by the President of the Republic, Sergio Mattarella, in a ceremony officially concluding Italy's participation in the XXIII edition of the Winter Games. A meeting to celebrate the Italian team's great satisfaction. The happiness that adds meaning to the mission accomplished (Photo Ferraro/Pagliaricci GMT).
The day was opened with a greeting from CONI president Giovanni Malagò. "I am very pleased with the results of the entire Italian team. In this unique and symbolically important moment celebrating the Italians’ return from our adventure in Korea for the Winter Olympics, I would like to present the new Secretary General of CONI, Carlo Mornati: for the first time ever an Olympic athlete has been appointed Secretary, an important message that I want to spread to all Italian athletes. Not only did we meet our goal of winning metals in double digits, which is an important statistic, but I overlooked an important aspect: the President of CONI and those who work for the Olympic Committee should not only be assessed for the number of medals won but for a team's overall figure, image, behaviour and style. These are all factors that characterise our experience in those 17 days before, during and after the Olympic Winter Games. President, each component of the Italian team held their head high. Sometimes situations affect a victory on the field: perhaps the wrong declarations, behaviours criticised by juries, every so often with reason, with doping constantly threatening the sports world. We made a good impression from every point of view; we are proud of this flag we wear on our hearts. We were exemplary both in sports events and outside the sporting world, also at an international level and in relations with the IOC, always seeking to honour the message which you, Mr President, have made us a part of before the games thanks to Casa Italia: a symbolic place to exalt our brand and group many initiatives together, also within the scope of the formidable diplomacy that has characterised the Olympic Games in Korea. We are honoured to be here with our flag-bearer, who was incredible and won a gold medal 24 years after another flag-bearer such as Deborah Compagnoni, but it was a women's Olympics for us thanks to the golds won by Sofia Goggia and Michela Moioli. We are proud of you. We are proud to be Italian, we are proud to be here".
The President of the Italian Paralympic Committee, Luca Pancalli: "What our athletes did is extraordinary, not only for the results achieved, but also because we hadn't won any medals in Sochi. It symbolises the triumph of sports as a tool for rehabilitating civil society. We started from a debacle, and I’m not only considering those who won medals, but also those who almost won them. I would like to thank Malagò and the authorities, both governmental and military and especially the President of the Republic, who have never ceased to support us, because even in this delicate moment for our country they have once again found time to welcome us after the Olympics and Paralympics. We have the presumption and pride of representing a small part of the country's welfare, and it is an honour to participate in such an event".
The Minister for Sport, Luca Lotti: "Thank you and thanks to the government and all the Italians, who like me woke up in the middle of the night to watch your Olympic events. Thanks to the athletes, the presidents, the sporting groups and all those who work behind the scenes with strength. The work of so many people supports your victories. I was fortunate enough to participate in the opening ceremonies: it may have been quite cold but it was an evening full of excitement for you. That evening we saw the message that sports knows how to convey. Behind the handshake between the two Koreas is a universal message of how sports unite. During the flag ceremony I told the story of Colò, the only Italian to have won a medal in downhill skiing: this is no longer so. Before leaving, I asked you to look to the athletes of the past and you followed my word to the letter: as an Italian, the best way to say thanks is to highlight how you have now become those champions of the past, setting an example for youth of how to make sacrifices and reach success. Perhaps some of that youth will become our future champions. I am also very pleased by the women's team. Your victories are the best way to show Italians that targets can be reached when you never give up".
The President of the Republic, Sergio Mattarella: "Congratulations to you for having participated in an exciting experience, and not just in terms of sports. The Olympics are a time of gathering, of human coexistence, an opportunity for peace, and this was confirmed in PyeongChang. You were greatly followed in Italy, even if the time difference did not always let us watch you live. I managed to see Fontana's 500 metre race live, and it was truly exciting. I considered how much those few moments express the laborious preparation that goes into them. Sometimes those who watch don’t fully grasp the amount of sacrifice, commitment, preparation and concentration that is needed. I saw Sofia Goggia's downhill race. I spoke with her on the phone and she told me that before coming to the Quirinale she had another commitment, yet she won just like Michela Moioli. Congratulations also to her for an extraordinary race, whose rhythms suggested how much control is necessary in each movement: a truly amazing spectacle. Fontana had a crescendo, winning a bronze, silver and a gold. I also saw the 3000 metre race; it wasn’t always easy to understand what was happening, but was nonetheless fascinating. All the hard work of women: I do not want to offend the men, but it is a wonderful fact that encourages the girls of our country to work even harder. Bertagnolli and Casal's medals were an extraordinary sight. We all cheered for you, those who represent ideal behaviour, the paradigm of life. Your performance is based on mutual trust and is a reminder to all. Congratulations to everyone, you won a significant number of medals which demonstrate the level of Italian sports; but the most beautiful spectacle was seen in the commitment and passion of all the athletes who participated in the games. CONI and CIP exist to ensure team value and are the heritage of our country. The Olympics are a reminder of commitment to all our youth: I hope that this reminder is effective and helps to ever-improve our country. The Italian flag with your signatures is a beautiful memory and the sign that you represented our country with great prestige. Thank you again, welcome back and congratulations".
The following athletes participated in the event: Arianna Fontana, Cecilia Maffei, Lucia Peretti and Martina Valcepina (Short Track), Federica Brignone and Sofia Goggia (Alpine Skiing), Lukas Hofer, Dominik Windisch, Lisa Vittozzi and Dorothea Wierer (Biathlon), Michela Moioli (Snowboard), Federico Pellegrino (Cross-Country Skiing), Nicola Tumolero (Speed Skating), and the Paralympic medalists Giacomo Bertagnolli and Fabrizio Casal (Alpine S).