Italy, China share experience, opportunities in Olympic flag handover

Updated: February 23, 2022 Source: Xinhua News Agency
fontLarger fontSmaller

A photo taken on Feb. 20, 2022 shows the flag handover ceremony during the closing ceremony of the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games at the National Stadium in Beijing. (Xinhua/Song Yanhua)

The Olympic flag was handed over to Milan-Cortina 2026 during the closing ceremony of Beijing 2022 and the two hosts are sharing Olympic experience and opportunities along with the handover.

ROME, Feb. 22 (Xinhua) -- Italy and China are sharing their rich experience in holding the Winter Olympics and abundant opportunities in enhancing their cooperation in the winter sports sector, industry practitioners and experts have said.

At the closing ceremony of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics on Sunday in the Chinese capital, the Olympic flag was handed over to the mayors of Italy's Milan and Cortina d'Ampezzo, the host cities of the 2026 Olympic Winter Games.

After the handover, representatives from Milan and Cortina d'Ampezzo presented an eight minute-show themed "Duality, Together."

"We would like to thank our Chinese friends for all the information they have shared with us," said Giuseppe Sala, mayor of Milan, before the closing of the Beijing Games.

"Our team is collaborating with the organizers of Beijing 2022 very well and talked with the director Zhang Yimou (chief director of the opening and closing ceremonies for Beijing 2022) several times," said Lida Castelli, artistic director of the Milano-Cortina eight-minute show.

"We can receive all the information that we need and exchange ideas with each other during our preparation over the past year and the rehearsals in the recent six months," Castelli said.

A photo taken on Feb. 20, 2022 shows the the Olympic flag handover during the closing ceremony of the 24th Olympic Winter Games at the National Stadium in Beijing. (Xinhua/Wang Jingqiang)

Passing the Olympic baton also means sharing experience regarding the organization of such a big sporting event.

According to the official website of the Beijing 2022 organizing committee, the Italian side sent over 40 people to Beijing to observe how this edition of the Winter Games was organized.

"Each city can benefit from the other's experience, and every two years there's a new story to tell about a new place," said Diana Bianchedi, project manager for the 2026 Milan-Cortina d'Ampezzo Olympics. The world was entering a new level of cooperation between Olympic host cities, she said.

Cortina d'Ampezzo's deputy mayor Luigi Alvera also deemed Olympic Games host cities' experiences important. "[Beijing 2022 organizers] showed great attention to the utilization of sport venues. For instance, regarding curling, the venue used for swimming competitions in the Summer Olympics became a curling facility, just like our 1956 Olympic stadium will host the 2026 curling competitions," Alvera told Xinhua.

Italy has already seized some of the opportunities that the Beijing Games' success and China's winter sports development have provided, and the Italian winter sports sector will keep benefiting from it.

Maurizio Tedesco, who works at the public relations department of Italian equipment maker Leitner, said that for companies like his, the Olympics are a "shopwindow to the world."

In 2019, Leitner won a bid to supply a fleet of snow groomers for the Beijing Games. These vehicles were used to prepare slopes for winter sports. "This deal was a source of professional pride for the company," explained Tedesco.

A photo taken on Feb. 20, 2022 shows the flag handover ceremony during the closing ceremony of the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games at the National Stadium in Beijing. (Xinhua/Xu Zijian)

Other Italian companies that had important roles to play at the Beijing Winter Olympics included TechnoAlpin, which provided snowmaking systems.

Moreover, as China fulfilled the commitment of engaging 300 million people in winter sports, global companies including Italian ones saw huge potential in business cooperation with China's winter sports market.

Ice-snow tourism will become a major driver of China's winter tourism and ice-snow economy, with its total income expected to surpass 1.1 trillion yuan (173.8 billion U.S. dollars) by 2025, according to the China Tourism Academy.

More winter sports lovers create more demand in the sector, and Hermann Winkler, an Italian from the Alto Adige region, already started tapping this opportunity.

Winkler brought on board Stefan Schild, from the famous Schild ski family from Austria, and together they founded Snow51 in 2017, a ski training company.

After the Beijing Winter Olympics kicked off, the number of clients attending Snow51 courses increased by 40 percent, according to Winkler.

China has a relatively young history for many winter sports, but the market is fast growing and highly dynamic, Winkler said. 

Editor: Duan Jing