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Parties of the century: closing as well as the opening ceremonies of 2008 Beijing Olympic Games


By WcP.Story.Teller - Posted on 24 August 2008

Drummers performs during the Closing Ceremony for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games on August 24, 2008 in Beijing, China

Two Number Ones – China in Gold, U.S. in Total

(quote)

The Beijing Olympics have come to a close after 16 days of thrilling competition - with the home nation sat on top of the gold medal table.

China has spent seven years planning for this event. It must be relieved that these Olympics are being hailed as both a sporting and an operational success. Worries about air pollution, protesters and media freedom were eventually overshadowed by what went on in the sporting arenas.

general view of the festivities in Beijing National Stadium during the Closing Ceremony for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games on August 24, 2008 in Beijing, China

At the closing ceremony the International Olympic Committee President, Jacques Rogge, said they had been "truly exceptional games".

Best of the best

Worldwide, 200 countries provided a staggering 5,000 hours of coverage through rights-holding broadcast partners. In China, 842 million people - more than twice the population of the United States - tuned in to watch some part of opening ceremony.

UK soccer star David Beckham during the Closing Ceremony for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games

On the field of play, nearly 11,000 athletes from 204 nations created indelible memories with their performances, many of them smashing records.

The ceremony to mark the end of the games, held in the Bird's Nest stadium, borrowed some of the grand style of the opening ceremony. Hundreds of performers were deployed in dazzling sequences that took months of planning to execute to perfection. And this being China, there were more fireworks.

The Olympics is being seen as a success from the government all the way down to ordinary people on the streets. "The best of the best - ever," said one compere, referring to this particular Games a few minutes before the closing ceremony started.

Positive legacy

dancers and performers at closing ceremony for Beijing 2008 Olympic Games

There was certainly an attempt at this last event to shape the way the world should think about the contro- versial decision to award China this year's summer Games.

Liu Qi, president of the Beijing organizing committee, said the Chinese people had honored the commit- ments it made when bidding for the games. Speaking at the closing ceremony, he said: "The Beijing Olympic Games is a testimony of the fact that the world has rested its trust upon China."

closing Ceremony for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games

The Chinese spared no expense ($40 billion for infra- structure) and overlooked no detail, however minute, in the planning, preparation and execution of what Liu Qi called "this grand gala of humankind."

Beijing, the historic seat of power in China, set a standard for host cities in almost every way, from its efficient routing of traffic - no small feat in a city of 17.4 million - to its stunning and innovative competition venues such as the Bird's Nest and Water Cube. Some 100,000 well-trained volunteers kept the Olympic machine humming.

dancer performs during the Closing Ceremony for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games

"We cannot be more pleased with the Chinese people's presentation of these Games," said Peter Ueberroth, chairman of the U.S. Olympic Committee. "Whether it's the (Athletes') Village or the venues, they've done an incredible job."

The IOC President, Jacques Rogge, suggested this Olympics would have a positive legacy. "Through these games, the world learned more about China, and China learned more about the world," he said.

All-star cast

The closing ceremony is partly about handing over to the next host of the summer Games, which in 2012 will be London. That gave the British capital the chance to stage its own mini-show within the closing ceremony.

basketball player Lauren Jackson of Australia is pictured during the Closing Ceremony for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games at the National Stadium on August 24, 2008 in Beijing, China

It began when the Olympic flag was handed to recently- elected London Mayor Boris Johnson, who seemed to fumble to unfurl the banner before holding it aloft. A red London bus than entered the stadium, out of which popped singer Leona Lewis and guitarist Jimmy Page, who together performed the rock classic "Whole Lotta Love". Britain's most recognizable footballer, David Beckham, then appeared from inside the double-decker - surely no other London bus can have carried such an all-star cast.

To huge cheers, Beckham kicked a football into the crowd of athletes who had also paraded into the stadium. As the bus left, pretend passengers clung to the sides holding up umbrellas. It was an attempt to poke fun at Britain's rainy weather and its people's preoccupation with it.

performers ride unicycle during the Closing Ceremony for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games at the Beijing National Stadium on August 24, 2008

Gold medals

But the Chinese still stole the show, with some sequences that were vast in scale and ambition. China won 100 medals and led with 51 gold in an eye-opening performance. A successful Olympics, with 51 gold medals for the home country, is probably exactly what China's leaders had hoped would happen.

After the event, one closing ceremony performer, Ying Ying, said her team of cheerleaders had been practicing since last autumn. "I feel very lucky just to be here. I've been moved to see so many athletes - and China has done really well," said the 20-year-old Beijing university student.

drum and drummers in the air during the Closing Ceremony for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games

The U.S. finished with 110 medals total, leading the overall medal standings for the fourth consecutive Olympics and setting a U.S. record for medal production in a full-participation Games.

(unquote)

Jacques Rogge, President of the International Olympic Committee waves the Olympic flag watched by London Mayor Boris Johnson during the Closing Ceremony for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games

Photos courtesy of Jeff Gross/Getty Images, Shaun Botterill/Getty Images, Stu Forster/Getty Images, Phil Walter/Getty Images, Clive Rose/Getty Images

Original Source: BBC News and Kansas City Star

Image Gallery: Pictures of 2008 Olympics Closing Ceremony

Related Articles: Beijing Wrap-Up: The 25 Most Marketable Olympians and Top 50 moments of Beijing 2008

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