The second edition of the Summer Youth Olympic Games were brought to a close on 28 August in a symphony of colour, music, fireworks and dance, as Nanjing reminded the world once again that it really knows how to put on a show, in a ceremony that was every bit as impressive as the Opening Ceremony 13 days earlier.
Just as at the Opening Ceremony, IOC President Thomas Bach called on everyone in the stadium to reach for their smartphones to capture the moment. Only this time there were no “selfies”; instead spectators were asked to take a picture of the person next to them, and, in a gesture of friendship to share it with the world using the hashtag #Nanjing2014.
President Bach hailed Nanjing 2014 as “a resounding success”, before thanking the hosts and organisers for their hospitality. “All of us, from every corner of the world, would like to thank the government and the people of China, Jiangsu and Nanjing.”
A “flawless” Games
The IOC President also paid tribute to the army of volunteers who had helped ensure that the organisation of the Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Games had been “perfectly flawless”.
“You are also part of this bright future that we have seen here in Nanjing. You have reached out to us and to the whole world. We want to respond to you: thank you, thank you very much, dear volunteers.”
The Organising Committee has set a great example for sustainable organisation by making use of a legacy and by leaving another great legacy to the people.
He noted that the Games had been a testament to China’s “world-famous efficiency” and “overwhelming friendliness” which had ensured that everyone involved, from the athletes to the delegates and spectators had been made to feel right at home in Nanjing.
While the sporting competition on display in Nanjing had been of the highest calibre, the IOC President emphasised that the Youth Olympic Games are about much more than striving to mount the podium.
A bright future for the Olympic Movement
“Only some of these young athletes can return home with a medal. But all of you can return home knowing that you did your very best,” he noted, addressing the thousands of competitors who had graced the field of play over the previous 12 days. “This is why you all can be happy. This is why we all are so proud of you. So take this spirit of the Nanjing Summer Youth Olympic Games home with you.
He specifically paid tribute to the way that the participants had upheld the values of Olympism in a spirit of friendship and fair play. “You showed respect for your fellow athletes and for the rules. You have shared with and learned from one another in the Olympic Village. You have given us a glimpse of your talents and of the bright future of the Olympic Movement.”
On behalf of the athletes, Chen Duo, who won six medals at Nanjing 2014, thanked everyone involved in making the Games possible. Meanwhile, the Chairman of the Nanjing 2014 Organising Committee Li Xueyong paid tribute to the IOC, the IFs and all of the National Olympic Committees for helping to create an event that “celebrated friendship, and which had opened a new chapter of the Olympic Movement, and allowed us to bring the Olympic spirit to life.”.
The IOC President finished with multilingual message of thanks, on behalf of the Olympic Movement, to all those who had made the Games possible: “Xie Xie Nanjing, Xie Xie la Chine, Merci beaucoup, Thank you very much.”
Buenos Aires beckons
At 20h36 local time, President Bach declared the 2014 Youth Olympic Games officially closed. The Olympic flag was then carried by the mayor of Nanjing Miao Riulin : It will later passed on to the Mayor of Buenos Aires (ARG), which will host the next edition of the Summer Youth Olympic Games in 2018. Spectators in the stadium and viewers around the world were then treated to a short presentation of the Argentinian capital, which culminated with a message from the country’s football star, Lionel Messi, who has already been confirmed as one of the ambassadors of the third edition of the YOG – calling on the world to come to Buenos Aires in four years’ time.
The theme of the Closing Ceremony entertainment programme was “Youth in Full Bloom”, and it opened with giant letters spelling out the word Nanjing, as 2000 singers and dancers transformed the arena into a symphony of sound, colour and movement, as 800 fireworks set the Nanjing night sky ablaze.
2,500 lighting devices contributed to an incredible riot of colour that filled the stadium, while the music, ranging from modern pop to traditional Chinese instrumental, and a dance programme that took spectators on a visually stunning journey around all five continents, interspersed with sequences that invoked highlights from the 12 days of sporting competition in Nanjing, along with the many cultural and educational activities that captured the imagination and enthusiasm of the athletes. There was also a much deserved tribute to the thousands of volunteers, who had helped make the Games such a glittering success.
At the end of the hour-long show, at precisely 21h36 local time, the Olympic flame was extinguished, as the celebrations inside the stadium continued. The party in Nanjing was clearly set to go on through the night, but with new friendships forged, and dreams and aspirations bolstered, it was time for everyone to bid farewell, in the hope of reuniting on the Olympic stage in the not too distant future.