While competition is still going strong in Beijing, all Games must eventually end.
After 19 days of events across 15 different sports, the 2022 Olympic Games, the second to take place under strict COVID-19 restrictions, will draw to a close. The Closing Ceremony marks the end of the global gathering, when China will quite literally pass the torch to the next country that will host the world’s greatest athletes.
Here’s what to expect from the Closing Ceremony of this year’s Olympic Games:
When will the Closing Ceremony start?
The Closing Ceremony will take place on Sunday, Feb. 20, 2022 at 8 a.m. in Beijing (7 a.m. ET).
Where can viewers watch the Closing Ceremony?
The Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony can be watched live on NBC or streamed on Peacock and NBCOlympics.com at 7 a.m. ET. For those who prefer to sleep in, the ceremony will be re-aired on NBC at 8 p.m. ET and then again 11:35 p.m. ET.
Who will be at the Closing Ceremony?
Typically, friends, families, athletes, and fans fill the stands of the Closing Ceremony, however, like at the 2020 Games, COVID-19 has changed that. Only 150,000 spectators were allowed to attend the Games’ events, and no foreign fans were permitted due to the ongoing pandemic and China’s zero-COVID policy.
While few fans will be at the Closing Ceremony, there are some 2,900 athletes from over 90 countries attending the Winter Games. That is close to the number of participating athletes in Sochi, Russia in 2014 and PyeongChang, South Korea in 2018 and more than enough to ensure the stadium doesn’t feel empty.
Another change is that there are no political representatives from the U.S. at the Games. While First Lady Jill Biden led the U.S. delegation to the Summer Olympics in Tokyo, no high-profile dignitaries or politicians are at the Beijing Games due to a diplomatic boycott launched by the Biden Administration to protest China’s treatment of the Uyghurs, a Muslim minority group. The U.K., Canada, and Australia joined the boycott. India also decided to boycott after China’s Olympic torch relay featured a soldier who was injured in a deadly border clash in 2020.
What will happen at the Closing Ceremony?
Like the Opening Ceremony, the Closing Ceremony will take place at the Beijing National Stadium, known as the Bird’s Nest, which sports fans may recognize from the 2008 Beijing Summer Games.
The Closing Ceremony will be directed by Oscar-nominated filmmaker Zhang Yimou, who directed the Beijing 2008 ceremonies, as well as the 2022 Opening Ceremony. The specifics of the artistic performances are still under wraps, but the staging is meant to reflect the “simple, safe and splendid” nature of this year’s Games like those seen at the Opening Ceremony. Traditionally, the ceremony includes a parade of flags representing all participating nations, starting with the founding country of Greece and ending with the host nation.
A few of the hallmarks of the Closing Ceremony include the presentation of medals from the last event of the Games as well as a parade of athletes. Traditionally, the flag of the host country is raised alongside the flag of the next country to host the Games. Italy is hosting the 2026 Olympic Winter Games and the mayors of the host cities, this time Milan and Cortina-D’Ampezzo, will be given the Olympic flag during the ceremony.
International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach will most likely give a speech declaring the Games over and the Olympic flame will be extinguished to be re-lit in the build-up to the next Games. The Olympic festivities traditionally draw to a close with an elaborate fireworks display.
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