© 2022 Maine Public
header.jpg
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
NPR News

The — at times complicated — 2022 Beijing Winter Games come to a close

A firework display is seen during the closing ceremony on Day 16 of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics at Beijing National Stadium on Feb. 20, 2022.
Catherine Ivill
/
Getty Images
A firework display is seen during the closing ceremony on Day 16 of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics at Beijing National Stadium on Feb. 20, 2022.

BEIJING — An Olympic Games beset by COVID-19 concerns, politics, and later tarnished by (another) Russian doping scandal is now over.

After 16 days and 109 events, the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics officially ended Sunday with the traditional closing ceremony.

A small, but enthusiastic, group of spectators sat in the stands at Beijing's Bird's Nest stadium during the bitterly cold night in the host city. Some did the wave and cheerfully waved the Chinese flag while waiting for the night's festivities to start.

Chinese President Xi Jinping sat next to International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach in the stands, watching the ceremony unfold.

Members of Team China wave flags as they walk in the athletes parade during the closing ceremony of the 2022 Beijing Olympic Games.
Lintao Zhang / Getty Images
/
Getty Images
Members of Team China wave flags as they walk in the athletes parade during the closing ceremony of the 2022 Beijing Olympic Games.

The athletes paraded one last time

The performances were limited, echoing the muted opening ceremony held earlier this month. Organizers emphasized snow and ice as the main theme. The center stage of the Birds Nest was composed of 11,600 square meters of an LED screen which aimed to imitate "a crystal clear ice surface" throughout the ceremony.

Triumphant athletes, appearing no less excited than they did during the opening ceremony, proudly waved their nation's flags during the parade of athletes.

American bobsledder Elana Meyers Taylor was elected the U.S. flag bearer for the closing ceremony — the first athlete selected as the U.S. flag bearer for both the Winter Olympics' opening and closing ceremonies since 1948.

Elana Meyers Taylor was the U.S. flag bearer during the closing ceremony.
Sarah Stier / Getty Images
/
Getty Images
Elana Meyers Taylor was the U.S. flag bearer during the closing ceremony.

She lost out on the chance to carry her country's flag during the opening ceremony after testing positive for COVID-19 and needing to isolate.

During the Games, Meyers Taylor won the silver medal in the first-ever monobob event and a bronze medal in the two-woman bobsled.

Some parading athletes were heading home with prized hardware around their necks and proudly showcased those hard-won medals to the passing cameras.

Team U.S.A. finished with 25 medals

The U.S. finished the Beijing Olympics with 25 medals (8 gold, 10 silver and 7 bronze). That puts the U.S. tied for fourth place (in terms of the number of gold) and fifth place (in total medal count). Norway topped the leader board for both categories, with 37 total medals total — including 16 gold. Host country China finished with 15 total medals, including nine gold.

Silver medalist Jessie Diggins of the U.S. celebrates during the Women's 30km Mass Start medal ceremony during the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony.
Maja Hitij / Getty Images
/
Getty Images
Silver medalist Jessie Diggins of the U.S. celebrates during the Women's 30km Mass Start medal ceremony during the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony.

During the closing ceremony, organizers held the last medal ceremony for the women's cross country 30km mass start. U.S. skier Jessie Diggins won silver after a tough push to the finish line. Norway's Therese Johaug won gold and Finland's Kerttu Niskanen won bronze.

Diggins' disclosed after her competition that she suffered from food poisoning not 30 hours before her race. After she finished, she collapsed and was down for several minutes. But her exhaustion from earlier in the day disappeared as Diggins jumped up and down on the podium as she received her medal.

As part of Sunday's ceremony, IOC leader Bach transferred the Olympic flag to the mayors of the Italian cities of Milan and Cortino, the hosts of the 2026 Winter Games.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Xi Jinping, President of China is seen on a big screen as the Olympic Flag flies prior to the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony on Day 16 of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics at Beijing National Stadium on February 20, 2022 in Beijing, China.
Lintao Zhang / Getty Images
/
Getty Images
Xi Jinping, President of China is seen on a big screen as the Olympic Flag flies prior to the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony on Day 16 of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics at Beijing National Stadium on February 20, 2022 in Beijing, China.
Children carrying snowflake lanterns perform during the closing ceremony of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games, at the National Stadium, known as the Bird's Nest, in Beijing, on February 20, 2022.
Manan Vatsyayana / AFP via Getty Images
/
AFP via Getty Images
Children carrying snowflake lanterns perform during the closing ceremony of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games, at the National Stadium, known as the Bird's Nest, in Beijing, on February 20, 2022.
Children perform during the closing ceremony of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games, at the National Stadium, known as the Bird's Nest, in Beijing, on February 20, 2022.
Anthony Wallace / AFP via Getty Images
/
AFP via Getty Images
Children perform during the closing ceremony of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games, at the National Stadium, known as the Bird's Nest, in Beijing, on February 20, 2022.
Flag bearers make their way into the Beijing National Stadium during the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony on Day 16 of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics at Beijing National Stadium on February 20, 2022 in Beijing, China.
Richard Heathcote / Getty Images
/
Getty Images
Flag bearers make their way into the Beijing National Stadium during the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony on Day 16 of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics at Beijing National Stadium on February 20, 2022 in Beijing, China.
Performers dance during the closing ceremony of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games, at the National Stadium, known as the Bird's Nest, in Beijing, on February 20, 2022.
Anne-Christine Poujoulat / AFP via Getty Images
/
AFP via Getty Images
Performers dance during the closing ceremony of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games, at the National Stadium, known as the Bird's Nest, in Beijing, on February 20, 2022.
The Olympic Cauldron is seen as performers dance during the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony on Day 16 of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics at Beijing National Stadium on February 20, 2022 in Beijing, China.
David Ramos / Getty Images
/
Getty Images
The Olympic Cauldron is seen as performers dance during the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony on Day 16 of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics at Beijing National Stadium on February 20, 2022 in Beijing, China.
Spectators look on from inside of the Beijing National Stadium during the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony on Day 16 of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics at Beijing National Stadium on February 20, 2022 in Beijing, China.
David Ramos / Getty Images
/
Getty Images
Spectators look on from inside of the Beijing National Stadium during the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony on Day 16 of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics at Beijing National Stadium on February 20, 2022 in Beijing, China.
China's flag bearer Xu Mengtao, top left, parades during the closing ceremony of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games, at the National Stadium, known as the Bird's Nest, in Beijing, on February 20, 2022.
Anthony Wallace / AFP via Getty Images
/
AFP via Getty Images
China's flag bearer Xu Mengtao, top left, parades during the closing ceremony of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games, at the National Stadium, known as the Bird's Nest, in Beijing, on February 20, 2022.
Members of Team Denmark make their way into the Beijing National Stadium during the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony on Day 16 of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics at Beijing National Stadium on February 20, 2022 in Beijing, China.
Lintao Zhang / Getty Images
/
Getty Images
Members of Team Denmark make their way into the Beijing National Stadium during the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony on Day 16 of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics at Beijing National Stadium on February 20, 2022 in Beijing, China.
Gold medallist Alexander Bolshunov of Team ROC, center, Silver medallist Ivan Yakimushkin of Team ROC, left, and Bronze medallist Simen Hegstad Krueger of Team Norway, right pose with their medals during the Men's Cross-Country Skiing 50km Mass Start Free medal ceremony during the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony.
Maja Hitij / Getty Images
/
Getty Images
Gold medallist Alexander Bolshunov of Team ROC, center, Silver medallist Ivan Yakimushkin of Team ROC, left, and Bronze medallist Simen Hegstad Krueger of Team Norway, right pose with their medals during the Men's Cross-Country Skiing 50km Mass Start Free medal ceremony during the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony.
The Olympic Cauldron is seen as performers dance during the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony on Day 16 of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics at Beijing National Stadium on February 20, 2022 in Beijing, China.
Dean Mouhtaropoulos / Getty Images
/
Getty Images
The Olympic Cauldron is seen as performers dance during the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony on Day 16 of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics at Beijing National Stadium on February 20, 2022 in Beijing, China.
General view inside of the Beijing National Stadium as the Olympic Cauldron is seen during the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony on Day 16 of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics at Beijing National Stadium on February 20, 2022 in Beijing, China.
Dean Mouhtaropoulos / Getty Images
/
Getty Images
General view inside of the Beijing National Stadium as the Olympic Cauldron is seen during the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony on Day 16 of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics at Beijing National Stadium on February 20, 2022 in Beijing, China.
Performers dance during the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony on Day 16 of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics at Beijing National Stadium on February 20, 2022 in Beijing, China.
Catherine Ivill / Getty Images
/
Getty Images
Performers dance during the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony on Day 16 of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics at Beijing National Stadium on February 20, 2022 in Beijing, China.
Children representing Milan and Cortina hold a globe as part of the handover ceremony during the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony on Day 16 of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics at Beijing National Stadium on February 20, 2022 in Beijing, China.
Maja Hitij / Getty Images
/
Getty Images
Children representing Milan and Cortina hold a globe as part of the handover ceremony during the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony on Day 16 of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics at Beijing National Stadium on February 20, 2022 in Beijing, China.
The Olympic Cauldron is seen during the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony on Day 16 of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics at Beijing National Stadium on February 20, 2022 in Beijing, China.
Dean Mouhtaropoulos / Getty Images
/
Getty Images
The Olympic Cauldron is seen during the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony on Day 16 of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics at Beijing National Stadium on February 20, 2022 in Beijing, China.

Corrected: February 20, 2022 at 12:00 AM EST
A previous version of this story incorrectly said the U.S. was third place in total medal count. In fact, the U.S. was fifth.