KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTS: Thomas Bach predictably and diplomatically avoid all references to the controversies which have marred the tawdry, self-isolated Winter Olympic Games in Beijing in his address at the Closing Ceremony.
No reference to human rights debates and no references to the doping controversy swirling around 15-year-old Russian Kamila Valieva.
Only, in the final hours of the ‘Olympic Truce’ he did express an ambitious hope that the Games would inspire “political leaders” – hinting at, but not naming, the current stand-off between Russia and Ukraine.
Bach, addressing initially the competitors, said:
Over the past 16 days, we admired your outstanding performances.
Each and every one of you strived to achieve your personal best. We were deeply touched how you were wishing and cheering for your competitors to achieve their best as well.
You not only respected each other. You supported each other. You embraced each other, even if your countries are divided by conflict.
You overcame these divisions, demonstrating that in this Olympic community we are all equal. We are all equal – regardless of what we look like, where we come from, or what we believe in.
This unifying power of the Olympic Games is stronger than the forces that want to divide us: you give peace a chance.
May the political leaders around the world be inspired by your example of solidarity and peace.
We share this Olympic spirit with all the athletes who because of the pandemic could not make their dream come true.
It breaks our hearts that you could not be with us.
But you belong and you will always belong to the Olympic community.
If we want to finally overcome this pandemic, we must be faster, we must aim higher, we must be stronger – we must stand together.
In this Olympic spirit of solidarity, we call on the international community: give equal access to vaccines to everybody around the world.
The Olympic spirit could only shine so brightly, because the Chinese people set the stage in such an excellent way – and in a safe way.
The Olympic Villages were outstanding. The venues – magnificent. The organisation – extraordinary. The support of the National Olympic Committees, the International Federations, our TOP Partners and Rights-Holding Broadcasters – unwavering.
Our deepest thanks and gratitude go to the Organising Committee, the public authorities and all our Chinese partners and friends. On behalf of the best winter sport athletes of the world, I say:
Thank you, our Chinese friends!
To all the volunteers I say: you warmed our hearts with your smiling eyes. Your kindness will stay with us forever.
Thank you, volunteers!
This unforgettable experience was only possible because of our gracious hosts, the Chinese people. With over 300 million people now engaged in winter sports, with the great success of the Chinese athletes, the positive legacy of these Olympic Games is ensured.
With the truly exceptional Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 we welcome China as a winter sport country.
And now I have to mark the end of this unforgettable Olympic experience: I declare the 24th Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 closed.
In accordance with tradition, I call upon the youth of the world to assemble four years from now in Milano Cortina, Italy, to celebrate with all of us, the 25th Olympic Winter Games.