The Winter Olympics in Beijing have officially come to an end after a magnificent firework display brought the Games to a close after two and a half weeks of sport.
The Olympics had drama, made history and were overshadowed by Covid concerns and the Kamila Valieva doping scandal, with Norway achieving a record 16 golds for a single Winter Games and Great Britain waiting until the final weekend to get on the medal table - with gold in the women’s curling and silver in the men’s event.
Mikaela Shiffrin missed out on the podium but was praised for her mental resilience, Germany dominated the sliding events - winning all but one across luge, skeleton and bobsleigh - while Norwegian biathletes Marte Olsbu Roeiseland and Johannes Thingnes Boe won five medals each, as did Russian Alexander Bolshunov in cross-country skiing.
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The Games were the most strictly controlled in history, with everyone involved forbidden from exiting the 'closed loop' of official Olympic venues to contain the spread of Covid.
With acclaimed director Zhang Yimou again behind the show for the closing ceremony, just as he was for the opening ceremony, the theme of snowflakes was front and centre right from the off. Children danced beneath a giant snowflake on 12 skates which took inspiration from the Chinese zodiac.
After China’s national anthem, the athlete parade was underway, with men’s curling silver medallist Bruce Mouat carrying the union flag into the stadium. Unlike the opening ceremony, this is a much quicker and more casual affair - and Eve Muirhead found a camera to show off her gold from earlier in the day.
As with tradition, the long-distance cross-country skiing medallists had their medal ceremony, with Norway’s Therese Johaug and Bolshunov getting their golds.

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A variety of montage videos, showcasing the best of the Games, were played throughout the ceremony, before the ceremonial handover of the Olympic flag to the Italian hosts of the 2026 event.
After a wave of the flag from Beijing mayor Chen Jining, International Olympic Committee president passed it over to Milan’s mayor Giuseppe Sala and his Cortina counterpart Gianpietro Ghedina - and as the Italian flag was raised, the countdown to Milan-Cortina had officially started.

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Their segment of the ceremony began with a giant globe being pushed onto what was meant to symbolise thin ice, highlighting the fragile condition of the planet. Two contemporary dancers drew virtual lines with their movements to create silhouettes of some of the sports, before the 2026 Games logo was displayed on the floor.
After a speech by the head of the Beijing Games organising committee, International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach made his closing speech and addressing the athletes, he appeared to mention the ongoing crisis involving Russia and Ukraine.
“You not only respected each other. You supported each other. You embraced each other, even if your countries are divided by conflict,” he said, an apparent reference to Ukrainian silver medallist Oleksandr Abramenko hugging a Russian skier after the freestyle skiing aerials final.
“You overcame these divisions, demonstrating that in this Olympic community we are all equal – regardless of what we look like, where we come from, or what we believe in.
“This unifying power of the Olympic Games is stronger than the forces that want to divide us: you give peace a chance.
“May the political leaders around the world be inspired by your example of solidarity and peace.”

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Bach thanked everyone involved with the Beijing Games, and after declaring the Games closed, the lead-up to extinguishing the Olympic Flame began.
In a nod to the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, the Olympic rings rose again from the ground, passing the giant snowflake as it was lowered, as all of the flags of the participating nations surrounded it.
A spectacular firework display followed, including a magnificent lighting up of the Olympic rings in the sky above the Bird’s Nest - just like 14 years ago. The display was stunning and the ceremony finished with the traditional singing of Auld Lang Syne, bringing the curtain down on the Games - with Paris 2024 next up.

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