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DateLine Tuesday, 26 August 2008

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Closing ceremony at the Bird’s Nest:

What a night it was!

What a night it was! Heavenly drums, silver bell dancers, light wheels as flying men took center stage to greet guests at the Bird’s Nest during last night’s closing celebration of the XXIXth summer Olympiad. The evening’s performances featured an eclectic mix of China’s ethnic minority cultures and various modern elements.

A pyrotechnic display of numbers for the countdown from 29 - to indicate the 29th edition of the modern Olympic Games, ushered in the closing ceremony which was a grand finale to signal the conclusion of the world’s greatest sporting extravaganza. Spectacular fireworks formed a circle, the Chinese symbol of harmony and renewal, above the National Stadium immediately afterwards to indicate the successful completion of the Games.

The IOC chief paid a big tribute to thousands of volunteers who worked tirelessly for the success of the 204-nation Games. “You made the Games,” said IOC President Jacques Rogge.

Last night’s spectacular ceremony also served to indicate the official start of London’s role as host of the next edition of the Games in 2012. The British national flag was raised and the Olympic flag was handed over to the Mayor of the next host city - London. A short performance followed to showcase Britain’s enthusiasm for the Games, and star British soccerite David Beckham kicked a football to signal the launch of London’s 2012 Olympic journey.

The Beijing Olympic flame was slowly extinguished at approximately 9.25 p.m. as the evening’s celebration culminated in an emotional duet performance of ‘The Flame of Love’ by Spanish tenor Placido Domingo and Chinese singer Song Zuying.

The IOC chief thanked China for the ‘most exceptional Games’. “Thank you to the people of China, all the wonderful volunteers and the Organising Committee - BOCOG!,” he said.

IOC President Jacques Rogge said the world learned more about China, and China learned more about the world through the Beijing Olympiad.

“Athletes from 204 countries came to these dazzling venues and awed us 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,” the Olympic boss said in his brief speech.

“As we celebrate the success of these Games, let us all together wish the best for the talented athletes who will soon participate in the Paralympic Games. They also inspire us,” he continued.

Rogge, addressing the competitors said the Olympians are the 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!,” he concluded.

Then, he made the customary announcement to declare the Games of the XXIX Olympiad closed as the Olympic flame was slowly entinguished.

Meanwhile, China and Great Britain issued a set of four postal stamps to commemorate the handover of the Olympic flag to London.

With Olympic rings on the background, the stamps feature landmark buildings in the capital cities of the two countries, such as the Bird’s Nest, the corner tower of the Forbidden City, the Millennium Wheel and the Tower of London respectively.

The Royal Mail said the issue would celebrate ‘wonderful Games’ and ‘whet’ people’s ‘appetite’ for what is to come - London will host the next Olympics in four years time.




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