China Wraps Up Olympic Idyll

A look back at a successful 2 weeks
By Katherine Thompson,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 24, 2008 11:54 AM CDT
A Chinese police officer looks at fireworks exploding outside the National Stadium during the closing ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympic in Beijing Sunday, Aug 24, 2008.    (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)
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(Newser) – The 2008 Beijing Olympic Games wrapped up today with a star-studded fireworks-filled extravaganza worthy of its opening, Reuters reports. With 51 golds, China easily topped the medal rankings, capping a near-flawlessly-executed couple of weeks that saw smog lifting, transport worries evaporating, and Tibet protests dwindling. Still, arrests and suppression of free speech marred China's image, say critics.

But the purpose of the Games is not to "solve all the ills of the world," said IOC chief Jacques Rogge, as the French men's handball team claimed the Games' final gold medal. As Beijing passed the torch to London mayor Boris Johnson, the BBC notes, the UK offered up Jimmy Page and David Beckham on a double-decker bus.