San Marino wanted to get right to the hearts of the many people who yesterday evening assembled on the stands of San Marino’s Stadium to attend the Opening Ceremony of the XVII Games of the Small States of Europe. The goal was definitely achieved. 16 years after the beautiful show that opened San Marino’s Games in 2001, director Vittorio Picconi was once again able to conceive an extraordinary event, one full of emotions and commotion. Playing with lights, colours and music, he created a unique atmosphere, a show that left viewers no time to get bored.
The event was made even more unique by the presence of many political and sports representatives like IOC president, Thomas Bach, whose opening speech athletes will remember forever.
“The Games confirm the power that sport has to unite us all” – he said “In sport we are all the same; no matter who you are or where you come from. Sport has always built bridges. Sport never builds walls”.
Many young people were present; many of them actively participated in the show. First, 22 athletes of San Marino’s Gymnastics Federation paraded beautifully dressed as handmaids, then 618 elementary and middle schools children from San Marino, who welcomed with balloons and scarves the nine delegations, preceded by the girls from San Marino’s Female Football Federation – playing in the second league – and a couple in medieval clothing belonging to San Marino’s Crossbowmen Federation. Delegations followed them: first Andorra, then Cyprus, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Montenegro and finally San Marino, whose white and blue flag was carried by the table tennis player Letizia Giardi amid the applauses of the crowd.
After the parade the real show began.
Singer Monica Hill, tenor Luca Grassi and the Choir of San Marino sang the hymn of the Games, “Olympian Dream”, written by Vince Tempera and Michele Von Buren (in digital distribution worldwide).
“Welcome back where everything started,” the President of San Marino’s Olympic Committee, Gian Primo Giardi said in his opening speech – In the past 14 years we have had the honour to appreciate the hospitality of your wonderful countries; the memories of the exciting editions of the Games you organized have spurred us to present our Republic in the best of ways, just like we did in the unforgettable first edition of the Games in 1985 and in another historical edition in 2001″. “Together” went on the President “we can make also this edition special. Together, in fact, is the theme we chose for the Games. A theme that is all the more important in the historic moment we live, when sport is called upon to fight against discrimination and division. Our response is “together”.
After Gian Primo Giardi, Marco Podeschi, the Secretary of State for Sport of San Marino took the floor.
“In this edition of Games – he explained – San Marino aims to achieve sustainability and environmental safety, because sport can and should be an opportunity to strive for a world that is more ethically virtuous”.
Then, the President of the European Olympic Committees (EOC), Janez Kocijancic, as well as the President of the IOC, Thomas Bach, gave each their speech, proving how important small countries are for the world’s top sports organizations.
It is at this point that their excellences, the Captain Regents of the Republic of San Marino, Mimma Zavoli and Vanessa D’Ambrosio, declared the Games open.
After a show of dancing fountains to celebrate the past 16 editions of the Games, it was time for the flag parade. First the IOC flag, carried by former San Marino’s athletes who participated in the Olympics, then the flag of the Games of the Small States of Europe, carried by other important local athletes – among them the two-time World Motorcycle Champion Manuel Poggiali – and finally, the flag of the Republic of San Marino, carried by local military forces.
It was then time for the flag hoisting ceremony: The Olympic flag and that of the Games were raised by the Guards of the Great and General Council and by San Marino’s Guardia di Rocca – the Artillery division.
After the exciting pas de deux by professional dancers Dalila Sapori and Paolo Di Caprio, named “Together for you”, nine torchbearers, one for each participating country, entered the stadium. Alessandra Perilli, the trap-shooting athlete who ranked fourth at the Olympics of London in 2012, held the torch for San Marino.
An angel of flames lit up the Olympic cauldron placed on the top of a model of the Public Palace, using the flames of each of the torches of the nine countries.
Taking of oaths followed suit: for athletes it was volleyball player Elisa Parenti who took the oath, for referees Gianluigi Giancecchi (basketball) and for technicians Claudio Stefanelli (table tennis).
On the notes of San Marino’s national anthem sung by Tarita Baldacci, the flag of San Marino was raised.
Another show followed, featuring the coloured and phantasmagorical performance by the “Compagnia dei Folli”, inspired by the colours of the Olympic rings.
The ceremony ended with a firework show.
The Games are finally open, now it is up to athletes to do their best.