|Fireworks explode during the closing ceremony in the National Stadium at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games August 24, 2008. [Xinhua] Click for more photos
BEIJING - After 16 days of burning in the National Stadium in north Beijing, the sacred flame of the Beijing Olympics was doused on Sunday night, after the Games were declared closed by International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge and the Olympic flag passed to London, host city of the 2012 Games.
Fireworks and spectacular lighting kicked off the two-hour extravaganza Sunday night, summing up the glee and passion the games brought to Beijing.
Thousands of athletes marched into the National Stadium, better known as the Bird's Nest, waving their arms and flags, snapping photos of each other, hugging, and basking in the cheers of an ecstatic capacity of fans.
The Olympic flame is extinguished during the closing ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games at the National Stadium, also known as the "Bird's Nest" on August 24, 2008. [Agencies] Click for more photos
At around 9:20 p.m., an airport flight schedule appeared on the large screen of the Bird's Nest, setting a scene of departure. Three athletes stepped on a boarding ladder truck with the logo of Beijing Olympics, located on the side of the stadium, waving hands to the crowd and saying goodbye to Beijing.
With tears in their eyes, they turned around atop the ladder, taking out an exquisite painting scroll and slowly unfolding it.
All of a sudden, the vertical circle wall on the top of the Bird's Nest turned into a red track, projecting the most unique and spectacular scenes of the 17-day Olympic Games in the passionate far-reaching music.
Meanwhile, two "sports sculpture" performers started to show various athletic gestures on a huge mechanic "memory tower" rising at the center of the stadium.
Under the watch of over 100,000 spectators and athletes, the Olympic cauldron atop the Bird's Nest, imprinted with patterns of auspicious clouds and wrapped in a red spiral strip that appears like an extension of the "scroll", slowly folded and diminished, marking an end of the 17-day feast.
In the meantime, to the roars from people packing the stands and thousands of athletes on the field, a huge "holy flame" was lit at the center of the field when 396 performers simulated the flame with their bodies on the five-story "memory tower".
The actors displayed all kinds of gestures in unprecedented all-directional space, turning the "memory tower" into a huge "holy flame", which conveyed to the whole world the ever-lasting Olympic spirit of man's pursuit of "Higher, Faster and Stronger".
Highlighting the whole closing ceremony, the show symbolized the holy flame would remain burning forever in people's hearts.
At the center of the stage, 16 yarn strips dotted with lucky clouds rose along the "memory tower" at the stage and extended towards the sky, forming a lucky cloud tree symbolizing friendship and joy.
"It's marvelous indeed. Beijing leaves an unforgettable memory to the world," said Fabian Tetelbozm from the Terra Networks of Argentina.
Singers took the stage afterwards and volleys of fireworks again lit up the sky, igniting the passion for the carnival.
The cauldron of the Beijing Games was ignited on August 8 by former gymnastics star Li Ning at the opening ceremony. The triple gold medalist at the 1984 Los Angeles Games, who is now a successful entrepreneur, took a stunt-like and painstaking journey around the top of the stadium, before setting ablaze the giant cauldron.