BEIJING, Aug 25: “Tonight we gather under the Olympic flag. Beijing is the focus of the five continents. Let’s gather our strength, let wisdom lead the way. We have tasted the magical fruit of Olympic Games. Surpass it, you have witnessed and shared the miracle of life. Surpass it, give dreams the wings to fly!”
Thus sang Wei Wei and Sun Nan, even as Beijing cried, ‘Please stay, friends from afar,’ in an emotional climax to the 29th Olympic Games that made the Bird’s Nest a fabulous moving picture of splendid colour and vibrant music.
The host capped a spectacular task, executed on a gigantic scale, with a memorable closing ceremony in bringing the curtains down on the ‘Ultimate Games.’ China had topped in every aspect, including the gold medal tally, and it touched hearts around the world with a dream finish.
The evening started to the beat of drums — two of which hung gigantically mid-air — and the silver bell dancers provided a spectacle with 60 light wheels symbolising the quick passage of time.
The National flags were then brought into the stadium. The bronze-winning boxer Vijender Singh had the honour of carrying the Indian flag.
The athletes entered the stadium from four directions in a mix, without any differentiation of nationality, walking together as one world. It was in keeping with the tradition at all closing ceremonies.
The Olympic hymn was sung by 226 children from around the world.
The flags of Greece and China fluttered high, along with the Union Jack, as the Olympic flag was lowered and taken in a ceremonious fashion to the Mayor of Beijing, Guo Jinlong, who then handed it over to the President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Jacques Rogge.
The IOC president passed it on to the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, which will host the next Games in 2012.
The 2012 host put up an eight-minute show in a moving bus, with Leona Lewis and Jimmy Page regaling the audience with a dynamic song, and David Beckham kicking a football from the top of the bus to signal the start of London’s take-over.
“Tonight, we come to the end of 16 glorious days which we will cherish forever,” said the IOC president, as he thanked China, the thousands of volunteers and the organising committee.
“Through these Games, the world learned more about China, and China learned more about the world. Athletes from 204 countries came to these dazzling venues and had us in awe with their talent. New stars were born. Stars from past Games amazed us again. We shared their joys and their tears, and we marvelled at their ability. We will long remember the achievements we witnessed here,” said Rogge in his address.
“One World, One Dream. The world today is in need of mutual understanding, inclusiveness, cooperation and harmonious development. The Beijing Olympic Games is a testimony of the fact that the world has its trust rested upon China. Owing to the Games, people have been united as one Olympic family, regardless of their nationalities, ethnic origins and cultural backgrounds.
“The Chinese people, teeming with enthusiasm, have honoured the commitments they solemnly made. They have realised the concepts of Green Olympics, High-Tech Olympics and People’s Olympics,” said the president of the Beijing Games Organising Committee, Liu Qi, in his speech.
“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. These were truly exceptional Games!” Rogge said while declaring the Games closed.
At a press conference later, he said: “It is clear that China has put the bar very high.”
The Olympic flame was extinguished at the stadium, but it burns bright in the hearts of billions around the world.
It was time for the fireworks to light up the sky. Indeed, it was fireworks all evening.
It was time to move on, with the promise to meet in London, to celebrate the Games of the XXX Olympiad in 2012.
Well done Beijing!