Vancouver says Good-bye - Rogge: "Excellent and very friendly Games"
International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Jacques Rogge declared the XXI Olympic Winter Games “excellent and very friendly” on Sunday as the 2010 Vancouver Games came to a close after 16 days of inspiring athletic achievement and high-spirited celebration.
The Closing Ceremony at Vancouver’s BC Place ended with the traditional handover of the Olympic flag from Vancouver to Sochi, Russia, the 2014 host. But the glow from the 2010 Games is sure to linger in Canada long after the international spotlight shifts elsewhere.
More than 2,500 athletes from a record 82 National Olympic Committees competed on the snow and ice in Vancouver and Whistler.
In the host nation, the Games created a sense of national identity and pride that was impossible to miss in the spectator stands and on the streets. Some predicted that the Games would forever change the way Canadians think about themselves and their nation.
“There has been euphoria here, a change. Something has happened, not just in Vancouver but all over the country,” John Furlong, the CEO of the Vancouver Organising Committee (VANOC), said. “I think the country has taken a different position around these Games. They have not been spectators, they have lived every moment with us. I think that is something we can be proud of.”
The spirit of global solidarity was evident in the worldwide reaction to the death of Nodar Kumaritashvili, the Georgian luge competitor who died in a training accident just before the Games. Rogge said everyone involved in the Games would carry the memory of Kumaritashvili with them.
“We have shared the grief of an Olympic dream cut short,” Rogge said. “We have shared the joy of dreams fulfilled. We have been moved by tears of elation and tears of disappointment. We witnessed extraordinary acts of courage and exceptional determination by athletes who refused to give up.”
The IOC President thanked the people of Canada for their hospitality and praised the athletes.
“You have made us proud. You are worthy role models. You have reminded us again that people from very different backgrounds can compete in a spirit of respect, friendship and fair play,” he said. “May we all take that spirit home with us.”
Read the full speech here.