‘Truly exceptional’ Beijing Olympics come to close(Lead)

August 24th, 2008 - 8:51 pm ICT by IANS  

Beijing, Aug 24 (DPA) The Beijing Olympics were officially declared closed Sunday by International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge, who called them “truly exceptional”.Rogge closed the Games according to IOC tradition and then invited “the youth of the world to assemble four years from now in London to celebrate the Games of the XXX Olympiad.”

“Thank you to the people of China, to all the wonderful volunteers and to BOCOG!” Rogge said in his speech.

“Through these Games, the world learned more about China, and China learned more about the world.”

Rogge spoke at “the end of 16 glorious days which we will cherish forever,” praising “these dazzling venues” such as the Bird’s Nest and the Water Cube.

The formal act came halfway through a glittering party attended by China President Hu Jintao and other dignitaries which featured drummers with giant instruments suspended from the sky and hundreds of other actors.

The closing ceremony started with fireworks and the Chinese anthem with Hu singing along.

The final victory ceremony, for marathon winner Samuel Wanjiru of Kenya, was embedded in the ceremony at the Bird’s Nest stadium amid the athletes of the world who had entered the stadium minutes earlier in a loose formation.

Around a dozen from the army of volunteers received flowers from new IOC athletes’ representatives Moon Dae-Sung, Alexander Popov and Claudia Bokel.

More than 11,000 athletes from 204 countries competed at the Aug 8-24 Games for 302 gold medals, with host China dominating the medal table with 51 gold, 21 silver and 28 bronze for a total 100 medals. The US had less gold medals with 36, but 110 overall.

“To the athletes tonight: You were true role models. You have shown us the unifying power of sport. The Olympic spirit lives in the warm embrace of competitive rivals from nations in conflict. Keep that spirit alive when you return home,” said Rogge.

More Chinese features and the theme song “Forever Friends” co-written by Italian music producer Georgio Moroder and Chinese musician Kong Xiangdong were to follow.

This was sung by nearly 70 pop stars from China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and other countries. Spanish tenor Placido Domingo also performed a duet with Chinese soprano Song Zuying.

And - unlike the opening ceremony where there were pre-recorded elements and a mimed song - everything seen by television viewers worldwide will be live and genuine, organisers said.

London 2012 was presented to the world for the first time in an eight-minute segment featuring the British capital’s famous red double-decker bus and football. London mayor Boris Johnson received the Olympic flag.

The closing ceremony for the Aug 8-24 Games ended with a giant party in the Bird’s Nest stadium.

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