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BEIJING: A Beijing Winter Olympics which noticed sporting drama and milestones however was tarnished by a Russian doping scandal ended on Sunday with an uplifting closing ceremony.

The Video games might be remembered for brand spanking new stars reminiscent of Eileen Gu but in addition for the doping controversy which engulfed 15-year-old determine skater Kamila Valieva and since they passed off inside an unlimited COVID-secure “bubble.”

The “Bird’s Nest” stadium, which additionally took heart stage when Beijing hosted the 2008 Summer season Video games, was the scene for a celebratory, snowflake-themed closing ceremony attended by President Xi Jinping and a socially distanced crowd seated amongst crimson lanterns.

Declaring the Video games closed and handing over to 2026 hosts Milano-Cortina, Worldwide Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach hailed an “unforgettable Olympic experience.”

There was no feared mass outbreak of COVID on the Video games or within the wider group within the Chinese language capital, however Bach stated: “If we wish to lastly overcome this pandemic, we should be sooner, we should intention larger, we should be stronger — we should stand collectively.

“In this Olympic spirit of solidarity, we call on the international community: Give equal access to vaccines for everybody around the world.”

Fireworks lit up the night time sky because the ceremony reached its crescendo, spelling out the phrases “ONE WORLD.”

For the reason that opening ceremony on February 4, a brand new international star emerged within the type of 18-year-old freestyle skier Gu, who was born in California however switched to China in 2019 and have become the unofficial face of the Video games.

There was a brand new males’s determine skating champion in 22-year-old Nathan Chen of america, who dethroned two-time Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu, in what could possibly be the Japanese legend’s closing look at a Video games.

One other iconic determine of winter sports activities, the American snowboarder Shaun White, will certainly not return to competitors of any kind after calling it quits.

The 35-year-old’s final occasion ended agonizingly out of the medals and he was in tears as he bid farewell to snowboarding — “the love of my life.”

There was bitter disappointment for his fellow American, the alpine ski star Mikaela Shiffrin, one of many greatest names on the Video games however who went residence with out a medal.

There have been tears from Valieva after it emerged that she had failed a medication check previous to the Video games, catapulting her to the forefront of one more Russian doping controversy to mar an Olympics and piling intense strain on {the teenager}.

In what’s going to go down as a infamous episode within the historical past of the Winter Olympics, the pre-tournament favourite for singles gold fell a number of instances on the ice within the finals, to audible gasps from the socially distanced crowd of hand-picked spectators.

Her doping case appears to be like sure to tug on within the coming months, lengthy after the Video games have packed up. She was allowed to skate within the Chinese language capital however has not been cleared of doping.

In a Video games first, the skating workforce medals weren’t awarded after Valieva performed a starring function in propelling the Russians to gold, forward of america and Japan.

The American skaters made an Eleventh-hour courtroom bid on Saturday to get their arms on their medals earlier than they went residence, however the Courtroom of Arbitration for Sport rejected it. China and its ruling Communist Get together will look again on a soft-power success.

Fears a couple of mass COVID outbreak within the “closed loop” bubble sealing the almost 3,000 athletes and about 65,000 others by no means materialized.

Some athletes did although catch the sickness and the pandemic was by no means far-off — Russia and Canada’s girls ice hockey groups performed one another sporting medical masks after the outcomes of their each day PCR exams did not arrive in time.

Considerations about human rights had dominated the buildup, with america main a diplomatic boycott by its closest allies over China’s rights document, particularly the destiny of the Muslim Uyghur minority in Xinjiang. Their athletes did nevertheless compete.

China warned within the fraught lead-up that international athletes criticizing the authorities may face penalties, however ultimately, any protests towards the hosts had been extraordinarily muted.

There have been quite a few information — amongst them American bobsleigher Elana Meyers Taylor turning into essentially the most embellished Black athlete within the historical past of the Winter Olympics.

Snowboarder Zoi Sadowski Synnott made historical past for New Zealand, profitable her nation’s first Winter Video games gold; with Gu pocketing two golds, the hosts loved a major medal bump and completed third within the medals desk with 9 golds.

That was simply their finest efficiency within the Winter Video games, a spot forward of chief geopolitical rival america, on eight golds.

For the second Video games in a row, Norway topped the medals desk, with 16 golds. Germany had been second on 12.

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