Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony: Highlights and Photographs
PYEONGCHANG, South Korea — The 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea concluded with a rousing, rocking closing ceremony. Here’s a look at what happened:
The 2018 Olympics End With a Dance Party
The last 15 minutes of the ceremony were listed as an electronic dance music party. The DJs cranking loud music included Raiden (not the Mortal Kombat character), and Martin Garrix, the Dutch superstar of the scene. The athletes streamed out of the stands onto the floor and many of them danced. The American skiing superstar Lindsey Vonn led a conga line. A fun and unregimented way to end things. That wraps up the closing ceremony, and the 2018 Winter Olympics. Annyeong from Pyeongchang!
The Olympic Flame Goes Out
Did you like the 2018 mascot, Soohorang? Here are 10 of him. The five children who starred at the opening ceremony also turned up for a cameo. They opened up a giant present that revealed a snow globe. Sports scenes were projected, an advertisement for the I.O.C.’s Olympics Channel.
In the next segment, 400 performers entered carrying LED balls. Lights cascaded up to the Olympic flame and “extinguished” it. The performers took the shape of a snowflake to complete the effect.
More K-Pop as Exo Takes Over
You think CL is big? Try the earth-shaking popular boy band Exo. The large group hit the stage with some slick dance moves and K-poppery to the delight of teenagers everywhere, including figure skating silver medalist Evgenia Medvedeva of Russia, who is a self-proclaimed Exo fan.
Lindsey Vonn and Shirtless Tongan Upstage Bach
And … speeches. Eight minutes of speeches. Lee Hee-beom, president of the organizing committee, and Thomas Bach, Olympic champion in fencing (mentioned for the third time).
Bach spoke directly to North and South Korea. “You have shown how sport brings people together in our very fragile world, you have shown how sport builds bridges.”
As a little thrill to shake up the torpor of the speeches, several well-known athletes, including Lindsey Vonn and Pita Taufatofua, the Tongan taekwondo Olympian who competed in cross-country skiing and appeared shirtless and well-oiled for the fourth consecutive Olympic ceremony, posed with Bach and made a heart gesture with their hands.
Beijing 2022 Takes the Stage
Skaters scooted around the stage leaving luminescent trails that formed patterns, and eventually the logo of the 2022 Games. Giant illuminated pandas roller-bladed around. And then, at least according to the guidebook, the pandas flew back to Beijing through the internet.
K-Pop Takes a Turn
Time for K-pop! CL sang the pseudo hip-hop song “The Baddest Female” and “I Am the Best,” with torches and dancers. The crowd hit its highest level of excitement so far. And then some ritual. The national anthem of Greece. The flag of Greece was raised. The Olympic anthem. The Olympic flag was lowered and handed over to the mayor of Beijing, host of the 2022 Games. The national anthem of China. And that meant it was time for a segment devoted to Beijing. Yes, with pandas!
Visual Spectacle and Some Math
Next a somewhat abstract look at time. Some base 60 numbers were projected. It was a bit hard to understand, but the ceremony guidebook clarified: “When the number becomes zero, the people of the future break free from the existing time and space, and arrive at a world no longer bound by gravity.” And “The Axis of New Time set a new orbit of time in motion, and despite the fluid nature of the orbit, it reformulates itself by discovering and creating a new order.” Thousands of moving lights and dancers made for a fine visual spectacle if not a crystal clear one.
Cross-Country Medalists Share the Stage
Traditionally a victory ceremony or two is held at the closing ceremony. Here it was the men’s and women’s mass start cross-country races. Marit Bjoergen of Norway accepted her mind-boggling eighth gold medal and Iivo Niskanen of Finland his second. Thomas Bach of the IOC was on hand and was introduced for a second time as a former fencing gold medalist. In English and French. In French, fencing is “escrime.”
North Korea and South Korea Carry Their Own Flags
Rather than carrying the unified flag that was seen throughout the Games, South and North Korea each carried in their own flag: speedskater Lee Seung-hoon carried South Korea, and Kim Ju-sik of pairs figure skating, carried North Korea.
On the stage, a mournful and reflective moment; a tribute to those who have died, led by a turtle and giant puppets. The puppets were kkoktu, used at funerals to guide the dead to the next world. Marchers carried dandelion seeds, symbolic of life arising from death. Turtles are said to carry messages from humans to the gods.
The Parade of Flags, Minus One
Next up was the parade of flags, with each nation carried by one of its own Olympic heroes. Except for Russia, whose flag has been banner non grata at the Games. Ester Ledecka (Czech Republic), Jessie Diggins (U.S.), Marit Bjoergen (Norway), Ireen Wust (Netherlands) and Javier Fernandez (Spain) are among those who earned the honor.
And then came the mass of athletes, entering in no particular order rather than strictly by nation as in the closing ceremony. This entry was scheduled to take 20 minutes, although at other Olympics it has often gone on much longer. There were a record 2,920 athletes at these Games.
The Canadian delegation marched in on a high, with many athletes wearing their medals around their necks. They had their best Winter Olympics performance ever — winning 29 medals in total, 14 gold. You’ll notice less athletes in the closing ceremony than you did in the opening ceremony. Many athletes — and most of the biggest name athletes — travel back home after their events. But the last event of the Olympics concluded just 3 hours before the closing ceremony. So if you see any athletes limping just a little, they may have participated in this afternoon’s 30 kilometer cross-country skiing race.
A Blending of Traditional and Rock Music
Jang Sa-ik and a group of children got the South Korean national anthem assignment. The anthem was accompanied not by an orchestra but by a single marimba, a xylophone-like instrument. And then Yang Tae-Hwan, 13, completely shredded Vivaldi’s the Four Seasons (Winter, naturally) in a rock guitar arrangement, as performers in glowing suits cavorted. Eighty traditional Korean instruments, geomungos, a kind of zither, were then mixed with the rock — the meeting of old and new. A prayer pagoda rose from the stage to cap the opening number.
A Colorful Introduction and a Handshake
In a colorful intro, young skiers and skaters on wheels dashed onto the circular stage that filled the pentagonal stadium. There was heavy use of light projections on the stage. President Moon Jae-in of South Korea and Thomas Bach of the I.O.C. arrived and shook hands with Ivanka Trump among others. They were presented with snow globes by two children. Their significance? They were each born on July 7, 2011, the day Pyeongchang was awarded the Games.
It was 35 degrees in the Pyeongchang Olympic Stadium. That’s tropical compared to the low teens from the opening ceremony here. Attendees were still given a bag with a seat warmers, hand warmers and toe warmers. The ceremony is expected to be two hours long, after all.