2022 Beijing Winter Olympics Conclude, Countdown To Milano-Cortina 2026 Begins
The 2022 Winter Olympic Games came to a close at the National Stadium in Beijing on Sunday night after over two weeks of rigorous competition in 109 events of 15 disciplines, and over seven sports in the three competition zones of Beijing, Yanqing, and Zhangjiakou.
Photo Insert: The closing ceremony of the 2022 Winter Olympics at the National Stadium in Beijing
Chinese President Xi Jinping attended the ceremony with International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach, CGTN reported through PR Newswire.
Host, China, won a record 15 medals in total including nine golds. They ranked third on the medal table, behind Norway which set a new all-time record by securing 16 golds, and Germany, which dominated the sliding competitions pocketing 12 golds.
A total of 2,871 athletes participated in the 2022 Winter Games and over 2,000 of them attended the closing ceremony. Chief director of the ceremony Zhang Yimou called the closing event a "big party" for athletes.
"The truly exceptional Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 were the beginning of a new era for global winter sport," Bach said in his speech.
Of course, athletes would not have been able to display their incredible performances without the support and assistance from the organizing committee. Some 27,000 volunteers were recruited for the 2022 Winter Olympics and were constantly alert and on-hand to assist participants of the Games. Many of the delegations spoke highly of the volunteers' service.
"They have demonstrated the Olympic Spirit. They have been ambassadors for friendship, understanding, and peace," Bach said in an interview with China Media Group.
As part of the tradition, the Olympic flag was lowered down in the middle of the closing ceremony, and then passed by Chen Jining, mayor of Beijing, to Bach who passed the flag to Chen's counterparts in the Italian cities of Milan and Cortina d'Ampezzo, Beppe Sala and Gianpietro Gedina, respectively, that will jointly host the next Winter Games dubbed as Milano-Cortina 2026.
The two representatives from the host country also made an eight-minute introductory presentation to welcome the 2026 Winter Olympics.
Bach declared the curtain dropped for Beijing 2022 at the end of his speech.
As the ceremony was coming to an end, a huge snowflake, which also carried the Winter Olympic flame, was lowered down and finally put out, marking the end of the Beijing 2022 leg and the start of the four-year countdown to Milano-Cortina in 2026.