Beijing 2022: Curtain falls on Winter Olympics

An eye-catching closing ceremony brings to an end the Winter Olympics in Beijing.

Published : Feb 21, 2022 18:12 IST

Snowflakes were the dominant theme at the closing ceremony of the Beijing Winter Olympics.

Snowflakes were the dominant theme at the closing ceremony of the Beijing Winter Olympics.

The curtain fell on the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics on the night of February 20 during a snowflake-themed closing ceremony at the Bird's Nest stadium attended by Chinese President Xi Jinping. International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach described the Beijing Games as "truly exceptional" before declaring them closed, but these Games will be remembered for a doping scandal that enveloped 15-year-old Russian skating sensation Kamila Valieva.

They were also stalked by politics, with several countries staging a diplomatic boycott over China's human rights record, and the spectre of invasion of Ukraine by Russia, with President Vladimir Putin attending the opening ceremony in a show of solidarity against the West with Xi.

The ceremony on February 20 was capped by a 90-second fireworks display that spelled out "one world, one family," followed by a rendition of "Auld Lang Syne". During the ceremony, Bach praised Beijing's organisers and made a call for unity as well as universal access to COVID-19 vaccines. "You embraced each other, even if your countries are divided by conflict," he said. "The unifying power of the Olympic Games is stronger than the forces that want to divide us: you give peace a chance."

Friedrich toasts double-double for Germany

After two golds in Pyeongchang 2018, Francesco Friedrich doubled up again in Beijing on February 20, adding the four-man bobsled gold to the two-man version he won earlier in the Games. It's the first time anyone has done the double-double in Olympic bobsled history and completes another dominant Games from Germany in the sliding sports. Friedrich described it as a "great feeling" as his team of Thorsten Margis, Candy Bauer and Alexander Schueller finished their four runs in 3 minutes, 54.30 seconds. "We did it all to get here again," Friedrich said. "We did an amazing job these four years ... without all the guys, it's not possible to achieve such a moment.''

Germany also grabbed second and were close to completing the 1-2-3 as they had in the two-man event. But it's still been a dominant display from the Germans. They've won all but one of the bobsled golds, both skeleton golds, and all four in the luge. Indeed, Germany alone have been more successful than the rest of the world in the sliding events. They have won nine golds and 16 medals overall while everyone else has one gold (Kaillie Humphries of the USA in the monobob) and 14 total medals.

Gold medals

Therese Johaug won a grueling women's 30km mass start free in the cross country skiing to claim her third gold of the Games and ensure Norway top the medal table in Beijing. Great Britain got their first gold of the Games on the final day, as Eve Muirhead led them to a 10-3 victory over Japan in the women's curling competition. Team GB won the same event 20 years ago and Muirhead said this one had been "a long time coming." Finland came from behind to beat the Russian Olympic Committee in the final event of the Games, the 2-1 win in the men's ice hockey ending the Russians' four-year reign as champion.

Germany update

While sliding success may have been expected, there was a surprise silver for Germany in the mixed team parallel skiing. The team of Emma Aicher, Lena Dürr, Alexander Schmid, Linus Strasser and Julian Rauchfuss lost out narrowly to Austria in the final race but secured Germany's first alpine skiing medal for eight years, with previous teams often going close but losing out. "There was no question that we were motivated. The medal is extremely good for us," said Germany's sports director Wolfgang Maier on public broadcaster ARD .

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