An Olympics that began in tragedy closed with an emphasis on fun.
VANCOUVER, B.C. — An Olympics that began in tragedy closed with an emphasis on fun.
“These were excellent and very friendly games,” said International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge as he ushered out the 21st Winter Olympics during Sunday night’s Closing Ceremony at BC Place.
The event had a lighthearted feel throughout, beginning with an improvised skit in which the fourth arm of the torch — which had memorably not risen properly during the Opening Ceremony on Feb. 12 — finally came out of the ground.
That allowed legendary Canadian skater Catriona LeMay Doan to finally light that arm of the torch — and she applied the fire with a wide smile.
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The tragedy of the first day of the Games — the death of Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili — was noted by both Rogge and Vancouver Organizing Committee head John Furlong in their statements.
Rogge said that “together we have experienced many strong emotions. We have shared the grief of an Olympic dream cut short. The memory of Nodar Kumaritashvili will always be with us.”
But mostly, as is the custom of the closing ceremonies, the emphasis was on leaving a last, happy image of the Games and the host city.
Rogge’s comments were brief and didn’t appear to betray any misgivings about some of the problems that plagued the Games, particularly in the early days. At one point, he praised the work of the organizers, saying “You have done it. You have won.”
Furlong noted that one goal of the Games was to allow the world to get a closer look at Canada. He said he thought they succeeded in that task. “Now you know us, eh?” he said.
Furlong said he felt the Games had “lifted us up” and that Canadians were now “more in love with our country and more connected than ever before.”
His biggest applause line, however, came when he referenced Canada’s gold-medal hockey win over the U.S. earlier in the day saying it “will be remembered for generations.”
Among the famous Canadians appearing were actors William Shatner and Michael J. Fox.
The U.S. flag bearer during the event was nordic combined gold medalist Bill Demong.
The torch was extinguished as Canadian rock singer Neil Young performed “Long May You Run.”
That served as the symbolic turning over of the Olympics to Sochi, Russia, where the 2014 Winter Games will be held.
Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or firstname.lastname@example.org