Rio sees off 'marvellous' Olympic Games

Source:Xinhua Published: 2016/8/22 10:32:58

After 16 days of sporting excitement, the first ever Olympic Games in South America lowed its curtain in Rio de Janeiro on Sunday.

The International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach officially closed the Games he called "marvellous."

"These were marvellous Olympic Games in the marvellous city," he said.

"We arrived in Brazil as guests. Today we depart as your friends. You will have a place in our hearts for ever," he said in an earlier speech.

Rain and strong wind accompanied the festive closing ceremony in the iconic Maracana Stadium, seeing off an Olympic Games organized amid Brazil's worst economic recession since the 1930s and political crisis, which battled security scares and empty seats but nevertheless turned out a success. Two gold medals, from men's soccer and men's volleyball, brought a perfect ending to the host.

Rio 2016 president Carlos Nuzman went through an emotional speech.

"I am the happiest man alive," he said. "Let's celebrate together this great victory, this triumph of sport, of youth."

SPORT EXCELLENCE

Bach believed excellent performance from the world's top athletes contributed greatly to the success of the Games.

"We have seen iconic athletes across all the sports," he said on the eve of the closing ceremony. "The level of competition over all the sports was extremely high and I can only congratulate the athletes for their stunning performances and say thank you because this really is the spirit of the Olympic Games."

Twenty-two world records and nearly 70 Olympic records were set during the Games which saw 306 Olympic crowns go to 59 countries and regions and a record 87 different delegations have medaled in Rio where 10 teams including Fiji, Singapore, Vietnam and Puerto Rico ended their Olympic gold drought.

"Lightning Bolt" Usain Bolt from Jamaica proved that he is one of the greatest athletes of all time by raising his gold tally to nine in an athletics program after the 30-year-old completed the triple of 100m, 200m, and 4x100m relay for the third consecutive Games.

The Rio Games welcomed the debut of a refugees team. Without winning any medals, their appearance alone was enough to send an encouraging message to 60 million people who were forced to flee home.

American swimmer Michael Phelps summoned up his career in Rio by winning five more gold medals and one silver and raising his Olympic tally over five Games to 28 medals including 23 gold.

The United Sates topped the medal tally with 46 gold, 37 silver and 38 bronze medals, well ahead of Britain on 27-23-17.

China ranked third on 26-18-26 and capped their Rio trip with a perfect ending as the Chinese women's volleyball team was crowned after 12 years, leading to a nationwide celebration.

"With the sport excellence achieved by the Chinese athletes, Team China has met the expectations we set for these Olympics," said China's chef de mission Liu Peng on Saturday.

China, which sent to Rio 416 athletes including 35 returning Olympic champions, clean-swept four table tennis titles and seven out of eight diving gold medals on offer.

SIDELINE NEWS STEALS SHOW

A mugging story fabricated by American swimmer Ryan Lochte stole some of the limelight of the Olympic Games as the 32-year-old claimed he and teammates Jack Conger, Gunnar Bentz and James Feigen were robbed at gunpoint, giving rise to concerns over the Games' security.

Lochte eventually apologized after police said the swimmers vandalized a bathroom at the gas station and armed guards confronted them and asked them to pay for the damages.

Previously two bullets found in the equestrian media room and the stone attack on a media bus forced the host to beef up security which saw 85,000 forces deployed to safeguard the Games.

Besides the Lochte scandal, European Olympic chief Patrick Hickey was arrested for his part in a ticket scam and ambush marketing. Prosecutors said the scheme aimed to make 3 million US dollars in profits.

The mystery of the blue diving pool turned into a murky green lasted almost a week before the organizers changed most of the water after a failed attempt to adjust chemical components in the water.

A UNIQUE GAMES

"A new world" speaks for the Rio Olympic Games. It was a new experience for the South American country and also new for the IOC.

Bach said the Games could be called "iconic" in certain way.

"It is the first Olympic Games in South America, an iconic Games, a Games in the middle of reality. They were not organized in a bubble, but in a city with social problems and divides, and where the real life continued," he said.

"This was very good for everybody - to be close to reality and not in a bubble for 16 days and isolated from society. To face the challenges and put sport into perspective. To see where sport can help and unite people but also to understand that there are limitations to the power of sport," he added.

"With these Games the IOC has shown it is possible to organize Olympic Games in countries which are not at the top of the GDP (gross domestic product) ranking. We are ready to face social reality and address it," he said.

Despite a lack of funds and construction delays, the organizers managed to put together the world's biggest sports meet and transformed the city with its legacy.

A gleaming port district, a new subway line, a light rail service, express bus lanes, a road featuring Brazil's longest underground tunnel and state-of-the-art sports arenas are part of the infrastructure projects that benefit the Cariocas even before the Games.

The joyful nature of the Brazilians also add a bright color to the Games.

"The Brazilians were great hosts and united behind these Games. With the joy of life of the Brazilians they turned this into a great party for everybody," said Bach.

Chinese delegation head Liu agreed with the Olympic chief.

"The organizers' hard work laid foundation for the success of the Games. They tried their best to make improvement. We have so much new experience here that is hard to forget," said Liu.

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