Wrapped in the Italian flag to bid farewell to an emotional Olympics. A unique team - the Olympic and Paralympic medallists, together with the 4th placed athletes from the Rio 2016 Games - a sea of 100 "eternal champions and stars in their sport" took part in this morning's ceremony, held at the Quirinal (photo-Mezzelani-GMT), to hand over the Italian flag to the President of the Republic, Sergio Mattarella. The day, with the presence of the Prime Minister, Matteo Renzi, was opened by the national anthem played by the Band, Interforze, which was followed by speeches from the President of the Italian National Olympic Committee, Giovanni Malagò and the President of the Italian Paralympic Committee, Luca Pancalli. After an spellbinding video clip of the Rio Games, which recounted the key moments from the Olympics and celebrated the success of the Italian medallists, Federica Pellegrini and Beatrice Vio went up on stage for the symbolic and emotional formal act: the national flags, signed by the medallists, were returned to the Head of State amidst a truly satisfying sea of applause from the double delegation.
President Malagò thanked Mattarella for always showing interest in sport, the delegations for the excellent results achieved and also sent a message about Rome 2024. "We feel at home, your closeness touches our heart and goes beyond any institutional strategy. We had such a great experience, truly unforgettable. Our athletes were worthy representatives of our country. Always with class and style. We won 67 medals writing pages of history never to be forgotten. We have brought 100 athletes onto the podium showing that we are a country that when it wants can create one of world's top ten teams. Here we have athletes that told brilliant stories, they made us dream and feel emotions taking the name of Italy around the world. For the first time 4th placed athletes are present, because sport is not just about victories, they are also part of a winning Italy. We are in front of eternal champions and stars in their disciplines, who teach us how any goal can be possible: they are the most effective advert to show that Italy is not afraid of taking on new challenges with foresight. Sport is a fantastic stimulus and development lever, and aspires - according to a widely shared feeling - to an Olympic future: the athletes ask that this is not denied by prejudice. Only one thing can affect a dream, the fear of failure. And Italian sport never leaves defeated. Behind the successes obtained, lies the essence of sport, its true meaning, which is not just about talent and competitive qualities, but also humility and the spirit of sacrifice, the desire to grow and improve, the ability to consider each target a new starting point. I thank all of our champions, together with the coaches, managers and every single person part of this magnificent adventure. And I thank you, Mr. President, because you are part of our team, the undisputed flagship of our pride in being Italian".
83 Italian athletes, stars at Rio Games were present at the Quirinal. President Mattarella, who delivered a commemorative medal to the athletes, finished with a closing address to those present. "The Olympic and Paralympic Games are extraordinary events for the entire world, everywhere. For four weeks, Rio de Janeiro has been the centre of the world and showed itself with great effect and was watched by all nations with friendship and attention. Sport is always a profitable investment for the country and helps it grow. Sport is culture and quality of life. My gratitude is sincere: you honoured the Italian sports movement, with your commitment and your skills, helping to spread the Olympic message. I thank all the protagonists, coaches, managers, doctors and all those who have worked to make this adventure a success. The medals won have placed us in the first page of the medal table and the esteem and affection has given a sense of your great success. I want to emphasise how this experience has made you grow, also from a personal aspect. Achieving a goal does not mean being happy: you need happiness inside in order to achieve a goal. Sport teaches us to overcome our limitations, to improve ourselves. And you certainly did entertain and excite our country. You were our Italian flag in Brazil".
Present at the ceremony were the Secretary General of CONI, Roberto Fabbricini, the Deputy Secretary General and Head of Olympic Training, Carlo Mornati, the President of CONI Services, Franco Chimenti, the Managing Director, Alberto Miglietta, IOC members Franco Carraro, Mario Pescante and Ivo Ferriani, the members of the National Committee and other members of the National Council of CONI, the Coaches of the various disciplines, the General Secretary of CIP, Giunio De Sanctis, the President of the Committee for Public Education and Cultural Heritage of the Senate, Andrea Marcucci, the Secretary of State to the Prime Minister's Office, Luca Lotti, and the heads of the Armed Forces and the State Bodies representing their sports groups.