Winter Olympics: Athletes Celebrate As Ceremony Comes to a Close

by Josh Lanier

Pack it in. Games over. The Olympics held the closing ceremony on Sunday to finish off the 2022 Beijing Games. The event featured all of the remaining athletes marching through China’s National Stadium for the final time.

Children danced and fireworks exploded overhead during the ceremony, reports said. The limited attendance made the ceremony feel more subdued. China limited the number of people who could attend because of the coronavirus.

The athletes entered the stadium to Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy,” and applause from the few thousand people in the stands. Bobsledder Elana Meyers Taylor, the most decorated Black athlete in Winter Olympics history, served as America’s flagbearer.

America is heading home lighter than expected. The team brought home 25 total medals, which is fifth overall. That includes eight golds, fourth-most behind Norway, Germany, and China.

Fireworks spelled out “One World” above the Birds Nest, and IOC President Thomas Bach thanked the athletes for their hard work. He also stressed how important the Olympics are in united divisions.

“Each and every one of you strived to achieve your personal best,” Bach said. “We were deeply touched how you were wishing and cheering for your competitors to achieve their best as well. You not only respected each other, you supported each other. You embraced each other even if your countries are divided by conflict.”

He continued, “You overcame these divisions, demonstrating that in this Olympic community we are all equal. We are all equal, regardless of what we look like, where we come from, or what we believe. … You give peace a chance. May the political leaders around the world be inspired by your example of solidarity and peace.”

Olympics: Americans Still Waiting on Silver Medal or Maybe Gold

The Americans won a silver medal in the team figure skating event, but they still haven’t received it. The Olympics refused to hold the medal ceremony until officials could sort out a doping scandal surrounding a Russian figure skater.

Kamila Valieva, 15, tested positive for a banned substance in December, but the Court of Arbitration for Sports allowed her to compete because of her age. The IOC is investigating the issue and won’t allow the medal ceremony to go forward until it’s finished. So the American team is heading home with Olympic torches rather than Olympic medals.

They’ll eventually get the medals, but they might not be silver. If the investigation goes against Valieva, then Americans move up and claim the gold medal. In that case, Japan will get silver and Canada the bronze medal. Though, it’s unclear when the investigation will end.

U.S. Olympics CEO Sarah Hirshland said the decision to postpone the medal ceremony sends a bad message. She said this is another “another chapter” in the history of Russian doping.

“This appears to be another chapter in the systematic and pervasive disregard for clean sport by Russia,” Hirshland said in a statement. “We know this case is not yet closed, and we call on everyone in the Olympic Movement to continue to fight for clean sport on behalf of athletes around the world.”