The International Tri Colour Games is underway in Reggio Emilia, and it’s all systems go for South African sportsmen participating.

The games are said to strengthen political ties between South Africa and Italy. The strong relationship between the two countries dates back to the 1970’s, and was revived in 2003.

While sportsmen from the US, Germany and France all participate in the Games, South African sportsmen are also remembering the dark days of apartheid.

During this time, Reggio Emilia provided support to the then banned ANC. Former African National Congress (ANC) president Oliver Tambo signed a pact of solidarity with former Italian politician Guiseppe Soncini in 1977.

“The Italian government played a phenomenal role towards the end the supported the conclusion of war in Angola, Mozambique and in particular South Africa with soft power diplomacy; and we are here today on the soil in Reggio Emilia where  the father of this coalition against apartheid Mr Soncini started to drive a huge programme. On this soil, it’s where Oliver Tambo met international solidarity delegates,” says South Africa’s Ambassador to Italy, Prof. Shirish Soni.

In June 2013, the city of Reggio Emilia created a park in memory of Oliver Tambo.  The relationship has now filtered down to provincial and local government level

The bilateral trade between Italy and South Africa increased to R7 billion in 2014.

The sound relationship between the two countries has made it possible for children to travel all the way to Italy and take part in sport and cultural activities.