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Zoeggeler, Italian tricolor pride in Sochi. Italian PM Enrico Letta greets the Azzurri parade

sfilata-teamitaliaThe play of light, the suggestions of colours, the five circles that dominate the scene and when an electrical problem does not transform the last snowflake in the fifth ring, the festival goes ahead anyway. That’s because those circles, for what they symbolise anyway, appear to be a majestic emblem of a global event that forgets distances and overcomes all differences. Sealing  a ceremony that, as per the intentions of the Russians, has been designed to amaze the world.

This opens the XXII Olympic Winter Games at the Fisht Stadium. Forty thousand people in the stands, the countdown punctuated by images of the young Lyubov, a fictional character, yet decisive in the message conveyed: her name, in Russian, means Love, which is the best feeling for promoting the Olympic values through the history of the host country.  There was a self-congratulatory review divided into 13 parts, with a perfect revisiting of the events that have characterised the host country and the people who wrote its history. Sochi is the centre of the world on 7 February 2014 at 20:14. The Games have started and things are getting serious. In the stands, the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, does the honours as host: next to him, along with IOC President Thomas Bach, heads of state and government, there is the Italian Prime Minister, Enrico Letta, who does not want to miss out on showing his support for the Italian Azzurri mission.

Greece opens the parade, with a new feature as the entrance of the athletes has been moved, and flashes and smiles accompany the delegations of 88 countries around the lap of the track, the most beautiful setting for those who do sports. Italy entered the track in 32nd place and has as their head, Armin Zoeggeler, 5 times medallist in five consecutive Olympic Games: they call him the Cannibal, he certainly is a living legend who is proudly waving the Italian flag. He is the flag bearer of an extremely elegant group, wearing a designer EA7 outfit of midnight blue. Approximately 80 Italian Azzurri are parading. They are the undisputed protagonists, led by the Head of Mission and former Olympic silver medallist, Carlo Mornati. There are some who have tattooed the Italian tricolor flag onto their skin and those who are waving the flag but not excessively, in a simple but festive walk to the history. From the stands, in the official jacket, Enrico Letta stands up instinctively, almost accompanying them and greets them one by one.

The Olympic buzz also shakes the unflappable Zoeggeler, who has won everything but has never been the flag bearer, as he emphasised by pointing out that it was "a verysaluto-letta special, different and unique feeling. I am happy and it was nice to be in front of my teammates in the eyes of the whole world”. The focus stays on the field until the entry of the triumphant hosts, the 88th according to protocol, but with the idea of overturning hierarchy on the ground. The party continues with fireworks and pyrotechnic displays until the moment that serves as a prelude at the beginning of the 17 days of competition: the lighting of the tripod. The figure skater Irina Rodnina and hockey player Vladislav Tretyak collect the torch from the gymnast Alina Kabaeva: the brazier lights, the party continues. Sochi 2014 from tomorrow will write the history of the Olympic Games.