© Reuters. Folks pose for footage close to an set up of the Beijing 2022 Olympics mascot Bing Dwen Dwen, forward of the closing ceremony of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, in Beijing, China February 20, 2022. REUTERS/Tingshu Wang
By Tony Munroe and Muyu Xu
BEIJING (Reuters) -Beijing doused its Olympic flame on Sunday evening, closing a Video games that shall 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 language President Xi Jinping was readily available for the snowflake-themed ceremony on the Chicken’s Nest stadium, the place Worldwide Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach described the Beijing Video games as “actually distinctive” earlier than declaring them closed.
The Beijing Video games, contained inside a “closed loop”, have been the second Olympics in six months to be disadvantaged by COVID-19 of a lot of its festivity.
They have been additionally stalked by politics, with a number of international locations staging a diplomatic boycott over China’s human rights file, and the spectre of invasion of Ukraine by Russia, with President Vladimir Putin attending the opening ceremony in a present of solidarity in opposition to the West with Xi.
Nonetheless, China was spared any embarrassing protests by opponents over its remedy of the Uyghur Muslim minority or anything, and the hundreds of international journalists readily available have been caught contained in the closed-loop, unable to report extra broadly.
Sunday evening’s ceremony was capped by a 90-second fireworks show that spelled out “one world, one household,” adopted by a rendition of “Auld Lang Syne”.
Throughout the ceremony, Bach praised Beijing’s organisers and made a name for unity in addition to common entry to COVID-19 vaccines.
“You embraced one another, even when your international locations are divided by battle,” he stated. “The unifying energy of the Olympic Video games is stronger than the forces that wish to divide us: you give peace an opportunity.”
SNOWFLAKES AND LANTERNS
Bach was seated subsequent to Xi in the course of the opening ceremony, with house between them.
On one facet of the stadium, which was roughly half full, crimson Chinese language lanterns projected a glow as Olympic athletes entered en masse to “Ode to Pleasure”, dancing and taking selfies.
The Chinese language workforce drew cheers that grew louder when San Francisco-born freestyle skier Eileen Gu, who received two golds and a silver for China, was proven on-screen.
Xi and his spouse, Peng Liyuan, joined within the applause, and Xi was later proven trying by binoculars on the spectacle of athletes strolling throughout the illuminated LED-screen ground of the huge stadium.
Later, a gaggle of 365 individuals bade farewell with a glowing inexperienced willow twig, enacting a conventional Chinese language gesture of remorse over parting.
GOLD MEDALS, COVID TESTS
Beijing’s tightly sealed bubble prevented the unfold of the novel coronavirus on the Olympics or into the neighborhood, vindicating a zero-COVID coverage that has remoted China inside what are almost closed borders that exhibits no signal of easing.
Nonetheless, many athletes had their Olympic desires dashed by constructive assessments that prevented them from competing.
Dozens noticed their preparations disrupted by enforced isolation, main workforce officers and athletes to demand improved situations together with higher meals, web, coaching tools and more room.
On the snow, the 18-year-old Gu delivered on the hype generated by her dozens of endorsement offers making her the youthful face of the Video games whilst her success raised questions on nationality and privilege.
Gu’s efficiency is a boon for the event of snow sports activities in China. Xi hopes that internet hosting the Video games will get 300 million individuals concerned in winter sports activities.
China’s 9 gold medals exceeded expectations, placing it in third place, whereas winter sports activities powerhouse Norway, with a inhabitants of simply 5.5 million, received a file 16.
Whereas Xi delivered a spectacle for a Chinese language public that was unable to attend – tickets weren’t bought and plenty of linked with the Olympics by the sudden mania for panda mascot Bing Dwen Dwen – thousands and thousands of People tuned out, with TV viewership reported to be far decrease than in the course of the 2018 Pyeongchang Video games.
The largest legacy of the Beijing Olympics would be the controversy surrounding Valieva, who stumbled underneath stress in her last skate, and the outrage directed in direction of Russian sports activities officers and the nation’s historical past of doping, which meant its athletes couldn’t compete underneath Russia’s flag.
Valieva failed a doping take a look at at her nationwide championships in December however the end result was solely revealed on Feb. 8, a day after she helped the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) win the workforce occasion.
She was nonetheless allowed to take part within the singles however completed fourth, her error-strewn efficiency prompting a harsh response from her coach Eteri Tutberidze that the IOC’s Bach later stated he discovered “chilling”.
The saga, which dominated the Video games, reopened debate over the suitability of the Olympic surroundings for minors and prompted the world’s high anti-doping authority to research Valieva’s entourage.