An Olympic Games in the pursuit of peace, with the Olympic torch warming a frosty PyeongChang. The XXIII Winter Olympic Games opened with a grand party, which, through sport, will resonate through the Korean peninsula until 25 February (the date of the closing ceremony).
Following the Korean alphabet, Italy made its entrance into the PyeongChang Olympic Stadium in 59th place, just before 9pm local time, after Iran and before Israel. Up front was flagbearer Arianna Fontana, the fluttering Tricolore held by the skater, forerunner of the Italian delegation led by Head of Mission and Vice Secretary General of CONI, Carlo Mornati. “With this flag in my hand, I fear nothing,” commented our standard bearer in the heat of the moment.
“It was utterly emotional. I was a little worried before the entrance because the wind was crazy. Before entering I shouted if the guys were ready and they yelled right back at me. We’re all so ready for this big adventure. Tomorrow I’m on the track in the first races and I’ll give it my all.”
Cheering, the Italian group included around 50 athletes from the two Olympic Villages of PyeongChang and Gangneung: the men and women alpine skiers, women ski jumpers, the Nordic combined team, the men and women cross-country skiers, some biathlon youngsters, the Italian curlers, the men and women figure and speed skaters and around 20 coaches and officials. With its elegant uniforms designed by Giorgio Armani, the delegation led Italy to the centre of the world, in an evening that officially opened the Olympics.
In the stands were IOC President Thomas Bach, sat next to South Korean President Moon Jae-in, the entire Olympic Family and the representatives of the 91 participating Committees (the delegation of Olympic Athletes from Russia was still to parade). ([images/PyeongChang-2018-Opening-Ceremony-Flagbearers.pd.pdf]the list of all flagbearers here) For Italy, the CONI President Giovanni Malagò, the Secretary General Roberto Fabbricini, the Minister for Sport, Luca Lotti and the Italian Ambassador for Seoul, Marco Della Seta. And more Italian IOC members: Franco Carraro, Ivo Ferriani and Manuela Di Centa, ex-member and current President of the ASOIF, Francesco Ricci Bitti and the MD of CONI Servizi, Alberto Miglietta.
Tomorrow the first medals will be awarded ([it/azzurri-in-gara/ingaradettaglio.html?giorno=2018-02-10]Italian athletes competing here), but tonight, braving glacial temperatures and wind, the entire Olympic movement launched its universal message: sport can unite and overcome any border or barrier, even the 38th parallel north separating North and South Korea.
A ceremony that emphasised the history and tradition of the Asian peninsula, without forgoing the opportunity to look towards the future, which told the adventure of five children and a white tiger (Soohorang, a protector of peace and PyeongChang 2018 mascot). Spectators were projected along a journey towards peace, illuminated by the light of the universe, and as explosive and contagious as fireworks. A play of lights announced the entrance, under a unified flag, of the North and South Korean athletes – a seal of peace. As was the performance, before the ceremony, of a mixed Taekwondo team.
Sport will unite, and the Olympic dream belongs to all of humanity, encouraged by the Olympic Flame lit this evening.