Closing Ceremony Live Updates: Beijing Says Goodbye to a Second Pandemic-Era Olympics

ImageThe closing ceremony will be on Sunday at Beijing National Stadium, also known as the Bird’s Nest.
Credit…Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times

The athletes will arrive all together.

Unlike the opening ceremony, when athletes march in with their national delegations, Olympians attending the closing ceremony file into the stadium en masse, symbolically suggesting that we are all one. (In practice, teams do tend to cluster together.) Elana Meyers Taylor, whose third place in the two-woman bobsled on Saturday gave her medals at four straight Games and made her the most decorated Black Winter Olympian, will carry the American flag. She had missed out on the role at the opening ceremony after testing positive for the coronavirus days earlier.

There will be pomp.

Host nations like to put on a show, though in Tokyo last summer the ceremony was toned down a bit because of the pandemic. The closing ceremony of the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing included international music acts like Plácido Domingo, Jimmy Page and Leona Lewis. But because of pandemic travel restrictions, the event on Sunday is likely to be more of a domestic affair.

Elements of the 2008 event that could be repeated this year are traditional Chinese music, circus performers and references to the Chinese lucky number 8.

Oh, and anthems will be played and various flags will be raised and lowered.

There will be speeches.

Several dignitaries will speak highly of these Games in particular and of the Olympic movement in general. Thomas Bach, the president of the International Olympic Committee, will be one of them. He will be introduced as “His Excellency Thomas Bach, 1976 gold medalist in fencing.”

The flame will go out.

The cauldron will be doused, signifying the end of the Games. It will be a moment of profound dignity. Like the night at London 2012 when the aging boyband Take That serenaded the flame. Or in Sochi 2014, when a giant puppet bear did the honors.

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