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Beijing Closes the Games

Editors' note: What follows is the transcript of Liz Clarke's live-blogging of the Closing ceremonies. Enjoy -- Liz did!

Beijing opened the 2008 Olympic Games 16 days ago with a four-hour ceremony steeped in centuries of Chinese history and culture.

At tonight's Closing Ceremony, the mood is expected to be lighter and more celebratory at the Bird's Nest, where the Olympic Flame will be extinguished, and the Games will formally be handed over to London, host in 2012.

China, of course, is exulting in its athletes' triumphs. While the U.S. led all nations with 110 medals, China won the most gold--51.

But the Closing Ceremony isn't an occasion for the host country to beat its chest. Tonight's show, organizers promise, will focus on "harmony, friendship and joy." Along the way, we'll hear an aria from Placido Domingo, some guitar riffs from Jimmy Page and I'm-not-quite-sure-what from David Beckham.

As the two-hour show unfolds, I'll do my best to give you the highlights without spoiling anything for those who plan to watch on TV tonight. We have a fourth-row seat, if you can believe it! And the music is starting now....(it's sweltering hot in here, by the way...)

There's no way TV can capture how loud the fireworks are that open the show! Or the stifling heat in this Bird's Nest. (Don't be fooled by the fluttering Olympic and Chinese flags. They were limp as they were hoisted up the flagpole--until they hit the wind machine. Now they're fluttering beautifully!

Anyway, two giant red and yellow drums are flying through the thick air, with drummers attached to them. Below, hundreds of women in yellow skirts and tin-foil hats are spinning around. They are meant to suggest "melodious silver bells" that are lighting up our hearts.

Now come a parade of acrobats doing amazing things on futuristic wheeled contraptions, like something from the movie "Mad Max." One acrobat has been spinning in circles for 5 minutes. I think he symbolizes vertigo.


This part of the spectacle over, the acrobats exit, and now come the real stars: The athletes. Each country has selected a flag bearer for Closing Ceremony, and here they come.

This part always makes me cry, honest.

I'm hardly an expert in all these sports and countries, but I can spot Chris Hoy, the fabulous Scot who won 3 golds in track cycling for Great Britain. The U.S. flag is being carried by an archer, Kahtuna Lorig, who was born in Georgia (the country) and competed in the 1992 Games for the Soviet Union, in 1996 for Georgia, and now the U.S

The flag-bearers look so proud. In case you forgot, in Closing Ceremony all of the 200-some countries' flag-bearers march out together, instead of with their fellow athletes. This is a way of saying that all nations have come together at the Games.

(The mass march of athletes will follow).

Actually it's happening now! And it's awesome. Finally something about these Games is spontaneous!! The athletes are running out like a big, excited mob, waving at the TV cameras and taking their own pictures too. Lots of air kisses! They look ecstatic.

I wonder if Jacques Rogge will be offended by such unscripted joy!


OK, that was the best part, for sure. Happy Canadians, gyrating Greeks. A Brazilian kissing his silver medal. Portuguese waving soccer scarves. Chinese athletes waving Chinese flags.

Not much body fat in this bunch.

There is Yao Ming! He's towering over everyone! He is giving out hugs and handshakes.

The only annoying part, to me is/are the cheerleaders who are forced to hop ceaselessly with joy, as if this moment fulfilled a life's ambition, too. I don't get it.

U.S. athletes aren't being shown on stadium's video screen, as far as I can tell. But then again, my head is partly buried in laptop. Maybe NBC will locate them for you at home.


What little air is left in this Bird's Nest has now been sucked out by officialdom.

The president of the Beijing Olympic Committee declares: "The Beijing Games is a testament of the fact that the world has its trust rested upon China."

IOC President Jacques Rogge follows, speaking in English that's too muddled to make out. The video boards carry the text of his remarks, but in French and Mandarin. I can only make out, "Dear are models...."

My high-school French teacher would be mortified.

Now, Great Britain takes center stage. A choir sings "God Save the Queen." Lovely


Now, more guys in suits.

The mayors of Olympics present and future: Guo Jinlong of Beijing, joined by Boris Johnson of London.

Guo is giving the Olympic flag one last wave, only there is no wind machine at shoulder level, so he's really having to work it.

He hands off to Mr. Rogge, who gives the flag a whirl. Rogge passes it to Johnson, who struggles mightily trying to find a proper grip. But he is smiling. Now, a fist pump! He has mastered the flag-waving.

I think the big London celebration is next. yes! A big double decker bus is coming in the stadium!! Tinted windows! WHO could be inside?


The bus pulls up to a crowd of everyday Londoners, reading newspapers and carrying umbrellas. The burst into performance art!

A 10-year-old girl (a real British school girl who won a contest to play this part by writing an essay, I'm told) appears with a soccer ball.

The bus is suddenly a giant transformer. It morphs into a--STAGE! And out pops two musicians and a searing ancient guitar riff--almost as ancient as China itself!

It's Led Zeppelin's Jimmy Page, with Leona Lewis blaring, "Whole Lotta Love."

But wait! It's David BECKHAM! Who takes the soccer ball away from the little girl and KICKS IT!


Now we move to the poignant segment of the program.

A giant airplane boarding ramp appears.

We are going somewhere....but the music is mournful.

Are we SURE we want to leave Beijing? Ancient wrestlers doused in white chalk grapple with the question.


Time to dance!

We're smiling again. This part of the program is called "Carnival," and it's a virtual Love Train, with performers from China and all around the world singing together and "building a rainbow bridge of friendship."

The pop tunes segue into Chinese traditional folk songs, performed by seven beauty-pageant lovelies.


OK. I am stumped here. A tower of humans is writhing.

At first they seemed shackled; but now they're running yet getting nowhere. They're making shapes.

Mercifully they are covered in a big red sheet. This might be the Olympic flame burning in our memory, but I'm not sure.

Maybe Bob Costas will tell us...


Romance is in the (stultifying) air. Now, a beautiful duet featuring the ageless tenor Placido Domingo and China's lovely soprano Song Zuying. She must be hot in her silver dress, but she's not even sweating.

The song is called "The Flame of Love."

Whoops. We've just transitioned to a new mood before I could post the old one.

This one is called Passion! And to convey it, we have two younger singers--one in a fuschia dress--belting out lyrics such as, "We have tasted the magical fruit of Olympic Games!"

Meantime, 75 acrobats tethered to the ceiling are flying up and down in luminous suits.

Suddenly, a pulsating drum sounds. Jackie Chan takes the microphone, and the whole arena is skipping in circles!


So, to recap, what we just experienced was "the greatest carnival of mankind," according to the program.

It certainly is LOUD. Fireworks are rupturing my ear drums, and I'm told they're doing the same from 18 locations all around Beijing at this precise moment, including Tiananmen Square. The sky is raining confetti--all over my computer keyboard.

And the sentiment on the giant video board is something like, Let's meet again in London in 2012!

It's a date!

By Liz Clarke  |  August 24, 2008; 10:34 AM ET
Categories:  Closing Ceremonies  
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Next: Rogge: Gymnasts' Paperwork Appears Fine


how will the chicoms cheat here?
they cheated in the opening, cheated with singing, cheated with fake documents, cheated by turning a tie for gold into a single gold for the chicoms.
what frauds.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 24, 2008 9:23 AM | Report abuse

What a great/wonderful game (unless one is devil/moron to think otherwise.. Go China!! Go USA!! Proud for the great achievement of both China and USA.

Posted by: hansolo | August 24, 2008 10:06 AM | Report abuse

Don't be McCarthyism!
To see is to believe!

Posted by: aaa | August 24, 2008 10:12 AM | Report abuse

The sensibility of a fallen desire.

The long vigils
of the night fall
on the ground
with a fine
sensibility, and
even that sunshine
invites me to cry
near the sound
of a finger: I dream
you my dear,
I remember your

Francesco Sinibaldi

Posted by: Francesco Sinibaldi | August 24, 2008 10:16 AM | Report abuse

Thank god it's over and we won't have to deal with the Chinese again for another 100 years, at least in the role of Olympic hosts. They really made a hash of it, showcasing a repulsive regime that most people were only dimly aware of and condoning cheating by their athletes in just about the most clumsy way possible. This has changed my perception of China, and not in any positive way.

Good riddance.

Posted by: Thank god ... | August 24, 2008 10:20 AM | Report abuse

Tired of your loser's words

Posted by: Anonymous | August 24, 2008 10:25 AM | Report abuse

"thank god.."

you just a meanie

Posted by: aaa | August 24, 2008 10:31 AM | Report abuse

Congratulations to the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games a complete success!
A friend once again welcome the world to Beijing!

Posted by: lever | August 24, 2008 10:41 AM | Report abuse

When I said you can get some money by killing the Indians, I mean it!

Go soldiers, now kill the Chinese!

Posted by: Abraham Lincoln | August 24, 2008 10:44 AM | Report abuse

“thank god"
have you ever watched a second of Beijing Olympic?

Posted by: 中国人 | August 24, 2008 10:51 AM | Report abuse

we will die after Olympic
it will erupt economic crisis after Olympic
help help!!

Posted by: chinese | August 24, 2008 10:53 AM | Report abuse

Americans are full of themselves ... and can't be gracious guests to the host country that gave them memories to last a lifetime.

Posted by: Ungracious Guest | August 24, 2008 11:00 AM | Report abuse

"thank god.." = Son of a gun.

Posted by: August | August 24, 2008 11:02 AM | Report abuse

Yes, I love China, my home-land.
As a citizen of Beijing, we enjoyed the whole process of these Olympic games.We can not expect a game more successful than Beijing Olympic Games, over all!
Although critism has been raised through the games. While think about the contribution, the efforts, the successful.
Welcome to Beijing Forever! My Friend from all over the world.

Posted by: Love-China | August 24, 2008 11:03 AM | Report abuse

I love China!

Posted by: Chinese | August 24, 2008 11:04 AM | Report abuse

thank god?!pls let god hold God back

Posted by: Wang | August 24, 2008 11:07 AM | Report abuse

I'm going to celebrate the Chinese culture......I'll have a pint of wonton soup and the beef lo mein special.

Posted by: Hungry | August 24, 2008 11:10 AM | Report abuse


But some comments above...
Loser's words!!

Posted by: Anonymous | August 24, 2008 11:16 AM | Report abuse

Some westerners certainly felt threatened by China's success throughout.
The more sour you are, you more successful this game is!

Posted by: china is great | August 24, 2008 11:26 AM | Report abuse

frankly speaking,some medias cheat the one who really want to know china.china is not the truth the media told you.i just dont know why we cant be the family but to be the eneimy.maybe the reason is the misleading of the narrowminded media.

Posted by: lxy | August 24, 2008 11:27 AM | Report abuse

I'm sure if the Chinese keep on producing their athletes like they do now (like the Soviets and East Germans before them), they will be successful for many years to come. Until people there realize it is wrong to take 4 year olds from their families so a decade later they can win gold for their country.

I for one am glad this saccharine Orwellian immersion is over.

Posted by: Not Fooled | August 24, 2008 11:36 AM | Report abuse

it is a great job, though numerous money has spend on it, and we finally can have a good dream.

Posted by: bengbeng | August 24, 2008 11:36 AM | Report abuse

You seem to view this in a passive way.
You have to admit that china is becoming more powerful in recent year!
And the each people in the celebration is just like a ding in a sociey, but they work really hard and all the amazing quality

Posted by: Lily | August 24, 2008 11:37 AM | Report abuse

i love china very much too

Posted by: sun | August 24, 2008 11:46 AM | Report abuse

I love China very much !

Posted by: sun | August 24, 2008 11:47 AM | Report abuse

what the americans cannot understand is why the chinese didn't do the americans told them to do. YOu see, Japanese did, Korean did. and lots of other countries did. And the american's biggest dream is to make love with chinese beautiful girls...what a people the USA is!

Posted by: Anonymous | August 24, 2008 11:48 AM | Report abuse

Some people will never ever have kind words to say. Always criticizing others this, criticizing others that. They should criticize the occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan. Double standards.

Posted by: Daniel Dukakis | August 24, 2008 11:49 AM | Report abuse

Beijing's game is not good as U.S.A.since they are failed to find even a bomb like America copper got at Atlantic.

Posted by: chinese | August 24, 2008 11:53 AM | Report abuse

I have watched 8 Olympic Games. So far Beijing is the truly the best. Hope we have better one in London. The game is great place to know the country. Beijing has done a superb job! Congratulations to the country, the city and those volunteers!

Posted by: Jonnhy | August 24, 2008 12:00 PM | Report abuse

Taking one with another, I think the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games is successful.
Please do justice to China. For anyone who has not been to China, it's inappropriate to present personal attacks.

Posted by: byy | August 24, 2008 12:11 PM | Report abuse

The Beijing Games provided 16 special days of athletic excellence, sportsmanship, and joy among all those who participated or attended. It was a worthy endeavor that should keep the hopes of human cooperation burning brightly. All who were involved provided a priceless gift to the world.

Posted by: Don | August 24, 2008 12:11 PM | Report abuse

Remember globalization! One World, One Dream.
God created the equality man. Man are the same.
Cheating is different from pursuing perfection.
I hate any kind of cheating to gain individual benefit.
United States of America doesn't lack of cheating and lying. Examples are so many around us. Don't want to talk about their name. Let's think. Let's love. Don't hate the other world that much. God didn't ask you to hate, he said angry is like murder.
Welcome peaceful! Please help our earth!
God bless you! God bless America!

Posted by: ilovechina | August 24, 2008 12:13 PM | Report abuse

China achieves what it deserves,though those nasty, morbid,hatred-ridden bashers' awkward exhibition.

American is great.Chinese is great.Only those China haters are losers forever.Those professional china basher's lie and slander backfired.

It is fun to see those haters use all kinds of excuses trying to estrange Chinese and separate the country.But we are wakened by your ill-purported attack this time,thank you.We become much wise and determined.

Posted by: Wells | August 24, 2008 12:15 PM | Report abuse

To know more about China!

Posted by: York | August 24, 2008 12:16 PM | Report abuse

Did you American see the athletes from Iraq!The country had been the richest one in the word! But now,who changes their life? It's you ! Foolish USA !
Do you know the article and history in China? I think you are just illiterate!
Do you ever forget we beat and conquer you in Korean!

Posted by: GREAT CHINESE | August 24, 2008 12:17 PM | Report abuse

Let's check those rabic "free tibet" moron and Eastern Turkic terrorists' comments here.They are eating sour grapes.

Posted by: Wells | August 24, 2008 12:18 PM | Report abuse

Great Olympics in Beijing, Some are feel sour by overtaken in gold medal count, just normal, Aus team are doing that too

Welcome to London

Posted by: Team GB | August 24, 2008 12:20 PM | Report abuse

a real success and i love Beijing very much

Posted by: au | August 24, 2008 12:28 PM | Report abuse

our top culture is peaceful with other people and the nature.
As a Chinese I oppose my motherland to invade other countries.
Tibet has been a part of China hundreds of years ago.
All countries are the results of battles or invasion.

Posted by: chinese wiseman | August 24, 2008 12:39 PM | Report abuse

our top culture is peaceful with other people and the nature.
As a Chinese I oppose my motherland to invade other countries.
Tibet has been a part of China hundreds of years ago.
All countries are the results of battles or invasion.

Posted by: chinese wiseman | August 24, 2008 12:40 PM | Report abuse

How beautiful the olympics have been,thank you China..Its Sunday Morning and I had to get on my computor to see what was happening at the closing ceremonies..Shame on you NBC..You missed the opportunity of having a true one world gobal effect..the whole world watching at one time...praying for the world at one time.ONe DAy you will realize the power of the energy created in an event watched by the whole world at once.
Yes these events like any gigantic happening has caused many of thecommon people disruption and pain, it happens every where,remember creating Doger Stadium and the olive branch recently offered. Change is hard...look for the goodness..but weigh each change carefully.
Thank you again Olympics for truly a life changing experience opportunity. The Chinese people are truly amazing.London all eyes on you!

Posted by: Kris Rose | August 24, 2008 12:47 PM | Report abuse

Faux fireworks, "perfect of image" lip-sync girl, gymnasts with phony passports -- it's demonstrated that China is obsessed with its image at the expense of its reputation. Don't they know they'll get caught and look loony?

Posted by: webg | August 24, 2008 12:50 PM | Report abuse

welcome to china
welcome to beijing

Posted by: wang | August 24, 2008 12:59 PM | Report abuse

The success of Beijing 2008 Olympic Games is the joyful result of the concerted efforts by the Chinese people and people across the world! Congratulations, China and the rest of the world!

Posted by: Chen Yang | August 24, 2008 1:05 PM | Report abuse

If you have can tell those passports issued by the Chinese government are phony, then who issues genuine Chinese passports?

If there was evidence of fraud, the IOC would have disqualified those girls.

Come on, be a good sport.

Posted by: Daniel Dukakis | August 24, 2008 1:13 PM | Report abuse

Liz Clarke ROCKS and I am sorry she will not get to see the Pandas.

Posted by: mhtalbut | August 24, 2008 1:30 PM | Report abuse

Celebration of Olympics Bronzes

What happened?
How can we lose gold count to China, a third world country?
Let’s have a national holiday of mourning. No one objects I bet!
Let’s have a national contest of the best excuses of winning so less gold medals.
It has to be the BEST, so it could worth a gold in this category.

What to do?
Borrow more money from China to buy foreign coaches…
No Speedo to Australia and China.
My secret weapon is to import 8 Jamaican runners. Money talks!
Bribe the judges (a little harder as everyone hates us but money talks again).
Change all the rules to our favor: 5 medals for basketball, 1 for table tennis, 0 for diving…
All tiebreakers must go our way as our sponsors own the Olympics.
We will amplify their “shortcomings” like copying our advance lip sing technique (how dare you’re), small size advantage, large size advantage, working too hard…
The Chinese must have put slippery jell on our batons and/or the gym apparatus.
Develop a dope that can take out all dope traces from our body so we take it before dope tests.
“One country, all medals” is our new Olympics slogan.
The more wishfully we think, the closer we succeed.

How to heal now, really?
Write to Dear Abby for starter.
Bronze is the same as gold if not better. If you do not believe me, ask any blind person.
It is harder to get a bronze as we have to LET two others to win.
We’ll train our athletes for the bronze from now on.
We will ask NBC to interview bronze winners only as they are the real winners.
Actually we’ll be happier to be #3 and build a better relationship with other nations. Stop laughing. It is a fact!!!
Phelps, we love you more with 8 bronze medals - it is no easy job to let 2 and ONLY 2 pass you 8 times.

If everything does not work, turn ugly.
Ask McDonald’s and KFC to give away their “food” (better than opium) to China FREE, so their next generation will be so fat that they cannot walk to the subway station.
Send soldiers to grab the medals, esp. gold. Hey, we have the best offense.
Will the world be better if we only fought for gold medals only (bronze medals in our case)?
What an Olympic spirit to celebrate the winning of the bronze!

-- The author is Tony Pow. 8/22/08. Created for fun. No politics. No dumb nationalism. No ego. 90% false, 10% true. 100% fun. Hope no offense to you. Please feel free to distribute/change... ---

Posted by: TonyPow | August 24, 2008 1:49 PM | Report abuse

The Chinese did a masterful job with the 2008 Olympics as just about everyone expected them to do. China is a very regimented society and when the leadership speaks, things happen. But I believe the ordinary Chinese citizen had a lot of fun (even if watching it all on TV), were proud of what their country did in presenting the Olympics and their beautiful country. Yes, there were some "warts" in censorship, curbing protests [Tibet, et al], etc., but the Olympics went off better than I thought. I would hope in a couple of years after I retire I could visit China on vacation and just meet the ordinary citizen. The Chinese did a good job.

Posted by: memphis bluelodge | August 24, 2008 1:54 PM | Report abuse







Posted by: Hmm | August 24, 2008 2:20 PM | Report abuse

America did not lead the Olympics for the first time in decades. No wonder a lot of people are pissed.

Posted by: India | August 24, 2008 2:54 PM | Report abuse

We must be honest about ourselves! 2nd and 3rd place finish (Silver and Bronze medals) have no place in American culture. The only thing that matters to Americans is being #1 (Gold medal). Winner takes all is as American as apple pie. It's totally un-American to include Silver and Bronze to our medals count so we could beat out the Chinese.

Posted by: Mickey | August 24, 2008 3:07 PM | Report abuse

A perfect score for China. It's been 16 stunning days since the game began! One world, one dream. Let's enjoy this global coming-out party the last time in the next 4 years.

Posted by: K.Su | August 24, 2008 3:22 PM | Report abuse

I think Chinese athletes clearly performed fantastically, but gold medal count isn't necessarily the most fair way to look at these things.

Weighted medal count taking into account gold, silver, and bronze medals... Read it and analyze.

Posted by: Most Offensive | August 24, 2008 4:36 PM | Report abuse

sb usa

Posted by: sb usa | August 24, 2008 5:41 PM | Report abuse

I Thank God for giving such wonderful talents to men and women as they were exihibed in the Olympics. Congratulations to China for their excellent conducting of the world games. Those 16 days, the whole world's attention was captured by the games. Can some one who could dream to do something to caputure the entire world's attention to FOCUS ON THE CREATOR OF THE UNIVERSE WITH ALL ITS WONDERS?

Posted by: Marceline J. Morais | August 24, 2008 6:53 PM | Report abuse

"While the U.S. led all nations with 110 medals"...
But it is a bit odd that America is choosing to be different from the rest of the world in suddenly choosing to view achievement in terms of total medals... even in the UK this has been pointed out. I guess America isn't used to the idea of China leading the is being presented outside of the States.

Posted by: Kt | August 24, 2008 7:15 PM | Report abuse

To the poster below me:

Eff You. Humans like you have no place in this lovely world. We all could care less if you were murdered.

Posted by: TC | August 24, 2008 7:59 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: A STUDENT FROM CHINA! | August 24, 2008 10:40 PM | Report abuse

A video released on YouTube shows American soldiers taking a group of Iraqis on a tour of a prison camp. The soldier guiding the group tells them that all the cases are currently being reviewed and says, "I'm sure if someone didn't do anything wrong, they'll be released."

At 5:47 into the video, the group approaches a barbed wire enclosure where the inmates tell them, "We are all under 18. ... We all have been here for more than a year."

The guide hastens to explain, "We have juveniles from 14 to 18. ... They're IED makers. They are dangerous people."

One young inmate calls out, "I swear to God, some were just walking in the streets or sleeping and they brought us here. I swear to God we are all innocent."

"I am my mother's only child," says another, at which the American soldier breaks in, "And he is the most dangerous. We know about him."

"I am only a child," says a third, more youthful, voice.

"How old are you?" he is asked.

"Nine years old."

"How long have you been here?"

"Five months. ... They wanted to take my father. I told them take me instead."

The inmates are not shown clearly enough to tell if the speaker does appear to be that young. However, Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski, the former commander at Abu Ghraib, testified in 2005 that there were several juvenile prisoners there, including one who said he was almost twelve but looked no more than eight and was crying for his mother.

"These juveniles are treated very well," insists the soldier. "We invite their parents to come and visit with them. They actually have movie nights. ... We have looked through every one of these files. These juveniles are dangerous."

Posted by: F_U | August 24, 2008 11:06 PM | Report abuse

Guess what Thank God, you will have to deal with China for the next 100 yrs.


Posted by: Proud Chinese | August 24, 2008 11:51 PM | Report abuse

Liz - Dave Berry wants to sit next to you at the very next Olympic ceremony that you cover!

"We are going somewhere....but the music is mournful.

Are we SURE we want to leave Beijing? Ancient wrestlers doused in white chalk grapple with the question."

Posted by: flynnie | August 25, 2008 1:23 AM | Report abuse

I cannot help laughing at those both igorant and arrogant fools yelling their kill and baby crying losses

Posted by: Anonymous | August 25, 2008 10:36 AM | Report abuse

Here these both ignorant and arrogant fools yelling kills of innocent and baby crying their losses - true threat to world peace

Posted by: jeo wang | August 25, 2008 10:40 AM | Report abuse

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