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A Promise Made to Meet Again at Milan 2026

I’m Liu Dibo, from Hunan province, central China, now a Ph.D. student from School of Environment, Tsinghua University. During the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games, as one of the Olympic Family Assistant (OFA) volunteers, I worked as the assistant for Francesco Ricci Bitti, President of the Association of Summer Olympic International Federations (ASOIF). My responsibilities include schedule management, escorting, translation and communication.

Francesco is 80 years old. I tried to know more about his preferences and make tailored plans for him to watch events every day. I introduced the tourist attractions along our way to the venues and offered timely solutions to unexpected changes. I made up my mind long ago that I would try my best to bring him a wonderful memory of the Beijing Winter Olympics.

One day, Francesco took me to casa Italia, a cultural promotion event organized by the Italian government during every Olympic Games. He introduced me to his friends, “Dibo is not only my assistant but also a friend important to me in Beijing.” When other foreign friends greeted me with smiles, I felt surprised and was touched by Mr. Francesco in that he treated me as a real friend.

When it was time to say goodbye, I brought Francesco a special gift. I colored and added the logo of Beijing 2022 to a “chair” model that I 3D printed at the Tsinghua University Art Museum. The “chair” was designed by the famous Italian designer Mendini. The moment he saw it, Francesco’s eyes sparkled with amazement and joy. “Dibo, you really serve as a bridge between Chinese and Italian culture. I will take it on board with me on my way back home.”

In return, Francesco gave me a copy of the program for the Opening Ceremony of the Games, attached with a long hand-written letter of thanks. He sent me another thank-you email after he left Beijing.

“I hope I will be able to see you again in Milan 2026. Do not hesitate to contact me if you are going to volunteer there.” Francesco once said to me. I used to think what we had together might be only about work, but it turned out to be close friendship that I would remember for the rest of my life.

Looking forward to seeing Francesco again at the Milan 2026 Winter Olympics!

From the WeChat account “Xiaoyan on the Way” of Tsinghua University

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