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Party on till the end
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By Keen Zhang
China.org.cn columnist
Some photos courtesy of Chen Lin

"The world has learned more about China and China has learned more about the world," said International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Jacques Rogge at the Games' Closing Ceremony staged in China's National Stadium in northern Beijing on Sunday night.

From a troublesome global torch relay, through the solidarity of worldwide Chinese people, a devastating Sichuan earthquake, and other natural disasters, to the highest-quality venues and some extraordinary Games performances, Rogge's remarks reflect how mutual understanding evolves and misunderstanding fades in a spirit of decency.

He eventually delivered a final verdict on the Beijing Games as "truly exceptional", rather than the traditional "the best ever".

But many around the world deemed them "the best ever". "I cried several times because it moved me so much, and I would like to personally thank the people of China for such a memorable event." Lynn Alexander, a reader of China.org.cn, wrote to us today.

After 16 glorious days in Beijing, the sports festivities finally came to an end with the people and the media reflecting on the legacy. Amid routinely lavish fireworks, the Closing Ceremony, though less spectacular than the Opening one, was still a creative feast for many.

The distinguished Chinese film director Zhang Yimou, also the General Director of both Opening and Closing Ceremonies, said in an interview that his focus had shifted from creating a masterpiece of performing art to making a carnival of the last night of the 29th Olympiad.

True. But the first section still resembled the dream-like Opening Ceremony, with fluorescent-suited performers, drummers, and dancers; with flying men performing and forming astoundingly beautiful shapes and circles under dramatic lighting and strobe effects. One element was perhaps lost to the television viewer: my colleague, Chen Lin, who was there last night, told me that the sound of silver bells ringing at the stadium was incredible.

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Party on till the end
The most memorable section of the Olympic Closing Ceremony was the magical Memory Tower. I saw it as some kind of Tower of Babel, a temporary symbol of united humanity together in the stadium.
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