China

Beijing closes curtain on ‘closed loop’ Winter Games

Reuters
Beijing closes curtain on ‘closed loop’ Winter Games

GOODBYE BEIJING. Beijing closes the Winter Olympics at the Bird's Nest stadium.

Evgenia Novozhenina/Reuters

IOC president Thomas Bach describes the Beijing Games as 'truly exceptional' before declaring the Olympics closed

BEIJING, China – Beijing doused its Olympic flame on Sunday night, February 20, closing a Games that will be remembered for the extremes of its anti-COVID-19 measures and outrage over the doping scandal that enveloped 15-year-old Russian skating sensation Kamila Valieva.

Chinese President Xi Jinping was on hand for the snowflake-themed ceremony at the Bird’s Nest stadium, where International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach described the Beijing Games as “truly exceptional” before declaring them closed.

The Beijing Games, contained inside a “closed loop,” were the second Olympics in six months to be deprived by COVID-19 of much of its festivity.

Sunday night’s ceremony was capped by a 90-second fireworks display that spelled out “one world, one family,” followed by a rendition of “Auld Lang Syne.”

Beijing Winter Olympics closing ceremony. Photo by Fabrizio Bensch/Reuters

During the ceremony, Bach praised Beijing’s organizers and made a call for unity as well as universal access to COVID-19 vaccines.

“You embraced each other, even if your countries are divided by conflict,” he said. “The unifying power of the Olympic Games is stronger than the forces that want to divide us: you give peace a chance.”

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Snowflakes and lanterns

Bach was seated next to Xi during the opening ceremony, with space between them.

On one side of the stadium, which was roughly half full, red Chinese lanterns projected a glow as Olympic athletes entered en masse to “Ode to Joy,” dancing and taking selfies.

The Chinese team drew cheers that grew louder when San Francisco-born freestyle skier Eileen Gu, who won two golds and a silver for China, was shown on-screen.

Beijing Winter Olympics closing ceremony. Photo by Fabrizio Bensch/Reuters

Xi and his wife, Peng Liyuan, joined in the applause, and the Chinese president was later shown looking through binoculars at the spectacle of athletes walking across the illuminated LED-screen floor of the vast stadium.

Later, a group of 365 people bade farewell with a glowing green willow twig, enacting a traditional Chinese gesture of regret over parting. – Rappler.com

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