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Athens Olympic Games Come to End
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With the handover of the Olympic Flag to Wang Qishan, the mayor of Beijing, host city of the 2008 Olympics, President of the International Olympic Committee Dr. Jacques Rogge declared the end of the Athens Games after 16 days of competitions.

"I declare the Games of the 28th Olympiad closed and in accordance with tradition, I call upon youth of the world to assemble four years from now in Beijing."

The IOC chief praised Athens for organizing a well-run Games, with the best ever athletes' village, flawless security, higher television ratings, and good ticket sales.

However, Rogge refused to rank the Athens Games among past Olympics, saying he would not make comparisons.

"The Olympic Games are a competition between athletes and not between the Organizing Committees. You cannot compare at different times, different countries with different political and cultural environments."

But despite all the praise, Rogge sent a chilling warning there could be more positive drug tests than the 22 recorded so far in Athens, which double the figure in Sydney.

The Olympic supremo said the powerful performance at Athens by China, Japan and their neighbors marked the "awakening of Asia" that heralds a strong showing by Asian nations at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

"In these Games we saw the awakening of Asia. We saw the major progress of China, the extraordinary success of Japan, of Korea, Thailand and Indonesia. I believe that this is a very strong sign that Asia will be at full strength at the Beijing Games at four years' time."

China went into the Athens Games expecting to win fewer medals than in Sydney, as the country adopted a youth policy to prepare athletes for a maximum output at Beijing.

Chinese athletes finished third on the medal tally in Sydney with 28 golds and 59 medals, after the United States and Russia.

With a historic high of 32 gold and 63 medals, China broke its Olympic record medal haul and exceeded Russia to rank second in the gold medal tally, following the United States.

Yuan Weimin is chef-de-mission of the Chinese delegation,

Yuan Weimin says we are proud to say that we have fully realized the goals set before the Games. I'm pleased to say that we took gold medals in 13 sports in Athens, compared to nine in Sydney. Also, our athletes made historic breakthroughs in 24 events of nine sports including athletics, canoeing and tennis.

Yuan Weimin says the triumph at the Athens Games will lay a solid foundation for China's preparations at Beijing Games, when the Olympics is held in China for the first time.

To invite the world to Beijing, an eight-minute Chinese gala show was put on the center stage at the end of the closing ceremony, with the performance reaching a climax when a young girl singing Chinese folk song 'Jasmine'.

A message was revealed at the conclusion with the warm applause of the audience, 'Welcome to Beijing!'

(CRI August 30, 2004)

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