The XXIII Olympic Winter Games ended as they began, under the banner of peace. The next appointment is in four years and will still be held in Asia with the Olympic flame passing to Beijing, China, which will return to enjoy the five-circled dream after having organised the summer edition.
In the closing ceremony of PyeongChang 2018 held this evening at the Olympic Stadium, the IOC President Thomas Bach entrusted the Olympic flag to Jining Chen, mayor of Beijing, which will host the 2022 games. The Chinese director Zhang Yimou, who already directed the Beijing 2008 ceremonies, offered a preview of the Olympic Games to come. Postcards from China, along with the message: "We’ll see you in Beijing".
This evening, however, it is time to say goodbye to the Games that just ended. The Italians are in fifth place for number of medals received in the winter games’ all-time ranking (and in fourth place if you don’t consider its 'home' games in Turin, 2006) and demonstrate the women's prowess in the Olympics, where six of the ten Italian medals were won by women and the three gold metals carry the smiles of Arianna Fontana (short track), Michela Moioli (snowboard) and Sofia Goggia (alpine skiing).
Women such as Carolina Kostner (photo Ferraro-Pagliaricci GMT) were chosen to parade this evening under the eyes of the Mission Director and Deputy Secretary General of CONI Carlo Mornati and by the Italian Ambassador in Korea, Marco Della Seta, with the Italian flag that the President of the Republic Sergio Mattarella delivered to Arianna Fontana at the Quirinale.
A proper recognition of the career of the Olympic bronze-medal skater in Sochi 2014, who had marched with the Italian flag in Turin in 2006, at a very young age.
Twelve years later, Carolina still represented Italy and retraced her footsteps, this time in the opposite direction as a Short Track Olympic Champion and flag-bearer in the closing ceremony of the Russian games.
The Italian champion entered the stadium between Iran and Israel (according to the Korean alphabet) around 20:15, forming a coloured circle with the other 90 flag-bearers (the complete list can be found here), around which the protagonists of the games marched: the athletes. The Italian team entered just before 20:30, led by Arianna Fontana with three medals around her neck, carried triumphantly by the skaters Luca Lanotte and Ondrej Hotarek, as her victories are the victories of a team and of an entire country.
Just like the opening ceremony of 9 February, the show tonight continued to recount the traditions and innovations of the peninsula and spoke of peace, once again with the two Koreas parading together last, alternating their flags with those of a united Korea.
Every edition of the games remains immortalised in certain images which become part of history. Those of PyeongChang 2018 can be seen in the handshake between the President of South Korea, Moon Jae-in, and Kim Yojong, sister of the North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, in the excitement of the two countries’ athletes while on the women's hockey field and the two parades, under a single flag.
Tonight's ceremony placed a definitive seal on the games: different elements which, together, became harmony and united the world. "The New Wave" (title of the closing ceremony): a new wave that overcomes any obstacle, a message conveyed by sports that pushes beyond every barrier.