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Sochi’s was the biggest Winter Olympics closing ceremony ever staged,
according to organisers, a fitting send-off for a Games estimated to have
cost £30 billion to stage – far more than any other Games Winter or Summer.
The feel-good factor the athletes have created has gone a long way to
dispelling criticism during the buildup to the Games of Russia’s human
rights record, allegations of corruption and profligacy and the threat of
Islamist militant attack.
Voices of dissent have been heard, but they have largely been drowned out by
sporting endeavour on ice and snow in Sochi’s futuristic Olympic Park and
amid the peaks of the Caucasus.
International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach gave Russia a resounding
vote of confidence in his closing address.
“Tonight we can say: Russia delivered all what it had promised,” he said.
“What took decades in other parts of the world was achieved here in Sochi in
just seven years.”
Addressing the army of volunteers who helped guide athletes, reporters and
visitors to their destinations, he said:
“Through you, everybody with an open mind could see the face of a new Russia:
efficient and friendly, patriotic and open to the world. We arrived with
great respect for the rich and varied history of Russia. We leave as friends
of the Russian people.”
After Bach formally declared the Sochi Games closed, three giant mascots of
the Games – a bear, a snow leopard and a hare – appeared and the bear blew
out the Olympic flame.
A thousand children from the Pan-Russian Choir performed in a rousing finale
symbolising the arrival spring, before choreographed fireworks exploded from
the roof of the stadium.
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