NANJING: An emotional capacity crowd of 60,000 people bid goodbye to the second Youth Olympic Games at the Nanjing Olympic Sports Centre here yesterday.
The closing ceremony of the event featured up to 2,000 performers and as a fireworks show lit up the sky above the venue — the message was: “See you in Buenos Aires in four years”.
The Youth Olympic Games flame was finally put out in a charged atmosphere as Chen Weiya — one of the world’s most respected choreographers and directors of major events — put together another entertaining programme of lights, music and songs that was titled “Youth In Full Bloom”.
International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach declared the 12-day extravaganza of young athletes closed. China’s State Council Premier, Li Keqiang, was the guest of honour at the closing ceremony.
“The success of Nanjing 2014 has been created by young people from all over the world. They once again proved the value of youth and reminded us that young
people are our future,” Keqiang said.
“Youth is the prime time of life. Seize it as time waits for no one. Now the time has come for us to part and I would like to say to all the young people, ‘you are the hope of the future and the future belongs to you. May Nanjing 2014 remain forever etched in your mind. China will always welcome you,’” he said.
IOC President Bach congratulated the participants. “Thousands of athletes from around the world thrilled us with their performances. They showed us the Olympic values of excellence, friendship and respect on and off the field. These young athletes came to Nanjing to compete. But they also came here to learn, to make friends and to experience the joy of sport on a global stage,” he said.
He also extended his deep gratitude to the Nanjing Youth Olympic Games Organising Committee.
“Tonight is a time to give thanks. Thank you to the
people of Nanjing for their wonderful hospitality. Thank you to the Chinese authorities for their support for these games. A big thank you to our friends at the Nanjing 2014 Organising Committee for all they accomplished,” Bach said.
He made special mention of the role played by the 20,000 smiling and ever-willing-to-help volunteers. “A special thank you to the great team of volunteers for their dedication and enthusiasm,” he said.
“These games would have not been possible without the passionate support of the international sports federations and various national Olympic committees. Thank you for supporting the young generation of athletes and allowing them to pursue their dreams. Nanjing has been a
great host and the 2014 Youth Olympic Games will leave a long and lasting legacy for the city, country and the Olympic Movement,” the IOC President added.
Nearly 3,800 athletes from 202 nations competed for 222 gold medals in 28 sports. There were many top-level performances. And just like the first Youth Olympic Games in Singapore, hosts China ruled the competition and topped the medals tally with 65 medals, including 38 golds and 13 silvers.
China’s collection in Nanjing is bigger than their haul in 2010. In Singapore, their tally stood at 56 medals — containing 30 golds and 16 silvers.
Russia repeated their Singapore show, taking the second place with 27 golds, 19 silvers and 11 bronze medals. The mixed team had a creditable third spot with 39 medals, including three golds and 12 silvers. The United States of America and France moved up but South Korea, who were third four years ago, slipped to the 13th spot.
Ukraine, Italy, Hungary, Brazil and Azerbaijan rounded out the top 10.
In all, 80 nations bagged a medal or more in the Youth Olympic Games this year. The medal-winning nations are four less in Nanjing, compared to 84 in Singapore.