Two sober ceremonies to celebrate the countdown anniversary. The mayor reiterates: “I hope the Oval is done in the city”. Why not at the Arena?

    6 February 2023-6 February 2026: the inauguration of the Milan-Cortina Olympics is three years away. And in the cities that give the “title” to the 25th edition of the Winter Games (an edition on a territory never so extensive), two (sober) ceremonies are celebrated simultaneously. In Piazza Duomo, in the Lombard capital and in Corso Italia, in front of the Town Hall, in the Ampezzo area. On both sides, the flag-raising and anthem of Italy in the presence of representatives of local institutions, with mayors Beppe Sala and Gianluca Lorenzi in the lead.

    The ceremonies

    And if in Milan the decision to have everything done in the shade of the palm trees that have stood out in front of the Cathedral since 2017 does not go unnoticed, in Cortina the gaffe of those who announced that the countdown concerns the minus thousand days from away… It remains that symbolic moments had to be and symbolic moments have been. Without unnecessary frills and with former champions as the right corollary. In Milan, then, it is up to Sara Conti-Niccolò Macii and Rebecca Ghilardi (on this occasion without her partner Filippo Ambrosini), gold and silver among the artistic pairs in the recent continental figure skating event in Espoo, Finland, to rise to the sky, next to that of Italy and Europe, the flag with “Futura” in the center, the logo of the Games to come, while some students of the Conservatory interpret “Until dawn”, the song that will be the pillar sound at the five-circle review.

    The Oval

    Attention, it goes without saying, is for the critical issues that accompany the countdown. Linked, in particular, to plant engineering and related delays. All this, then, five days before the Lombard regional elections. After the renunciation of thirty Baselga di Pinè, the urgency concerns the venue of the Oval for long track speed skating. “I hope it takes place in Milan – Sala reiterates – because it is right to consider first of all the places and cities that have participated in the Olympic adventure from the beginning. I don’t have a totally closed attitude towards Turin which has come forward, but the first option must concern those who have always been there”. Attilio Fontana, president of the Lombardy Region, is on the same wavelength: “We will evaluate the offers and make choices – he specifies -: to further expand, however, a series of other initiatives should be implemented, such as a new mini-village. And the costs would rise”. Milan, on the other hand, already home to figure skating, short track and hockey, within a few kilometers would become the Olympic home of all ice sports. With the advantages and prospects of the case. Andrea Varnier, CEO of the Foundation adds: “It is normal that there are changes during construction: we are carrying out evaluations with the Municipality of Milan, the Lombardy Region and the other stakeholders. We have time, it’s not a concern.”

    Arena hypothesis

    It remains to be understood which could be the suitable venue. “There are various hypotheses on which we are working – explains Sala – certainly that of the Rho Fair is accredited, but understanding whether it could also make sense from an economic point of view. The Arena? You can’t compete outdoors and covering it would cost too much”. Yeah, but who says it can’t? The international federation. Which, in a specialty that has always had a Dutch traction, in March 2018 gave the go-ahead for the all-round World Championships, to celebrate the federation’s centenary orange, were played at the Olympic stadium in Amsterdam – very similar to the Arena, also in terms of seniority – in those days moreover beaten by the rain. The competitions of the Games, up until Albertville 1992, were always played outdoors. And the eventual transformation of the Arena – an iconic place, full of charm and history if there is one – without upheavals, is technically possible with relative costs, to the full advantage of the much heralded sustainability. And, last but not least, enormous visibility. The Cio itself, which had already said it was ready to make an exception, in the Napoleonic facility, on a 30×60 meter ice rink created ad hoc, from 10 February to 12 March 2021 underwent a series of tests with positive results, with temperatures even over 20 degrees. Are you sure that “it can’t be done?”.