Turin said goodbye to Winter Olympics yesterday in the spectacular closing ceremony Sunday night. The Olympic flame was barely extinguished when fireworks and confetti filled the air.
Next time Winter Olympics will take place in Vancouver, Canada, in 2010. Vancouver Mayor Sam Sullivan solemnly accepted the Olympic flags from the chairman of the International Olympic Committee Jacques Rogge.
Ballerinas and brides, aerial acrobats and cart-wheeling clowns celebrated the close of Turin's Olympic Winter Games yesterday in a cacophony of music and mayhem drawing on the Italian tradition of Carnival.
The carnival combined with the circus to close the Games that Olympic chiefs hailed as a success, pushing memories of a doping scandal deep into the background.
A roar shook the Stadio Olimpico, built by Italian dictator Benito Mussolini, when the last gold medal to be given at the Games was placed round the neck of Giorgio di Centa whose win in the 50km cross-country skiing produced a fairytale finale.
Thousands waved miniature Italian tricolore flags as his sister, Manuela, a member of the Olympic Committee, presented the gold, hugging him tightly. She won five medals at the 1994 Winter Games.
"There were truly magnificent Games," International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge told the roaring crowd.
A protester momentarily interrupted an address by the president of Turin's organising committee by shouting into the microphone "Passion lives here", the Olympic slogan. Police swiftly seized the man and escorted him away.
There was relatively little "scandal" in these Games, other than the strange case of the Austrian cross country and biathlon teams. As of Sunday, the only athlete punished for doping in Turin was Russia's Olga Pyleva, who lost her silver medal in biathlon when she tested positive for a banned stimulant.
As was the case in the 2002 Games, Germany was the overall medal champ with 29. Since Germany reunified and began competing as one nation again in the Olympics (which was in the 1992 Games) the Germans have been first in the medal count in four Winter Olympiads (2006, 2002, 1998 and 1992) and second to host-nation Norway in 1994. The USA and Austria followed the biggest Olympic gold winner on the second and the third positions respectively.
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