Winter Olympics: 5 things to watch out for at the Beijing 2022 closing ceremony

General view of fireworks during the opening ceremony of 2022 Beijing Olympics at the National Stadium, Beijing, China, Feb 4, 2022.
PHOTO: REUTERS/Marko Djurica

After two incredible weeks of the Winter Olympics in Beijing, it’s all finally coming to an end.

The Games will officially finish at the “Bird’s Nest” National Stadium with a closing ceremony at 8pm on Sunday Feb 20).

As with Feb 4’s opening ceremony, this showpiece will be helmed by famed Chinese director Zhang Yimou, who is planning to put on a display that embodies the mantra of “simple, safe and splendid” – as with the rest of these Games, because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Here are five things to watch out for at the ceremony.

Simplicity first

The ceremony will continue with the theme of simplicity, according Yan Jiarong, a spokeswoman for the Beijing Games organisers.

She said it would not be an extravaganza, but we can certainly anticipate hearing the popular Beijing 2022 theme song Together for a Shared Future.

“The closing ceremony will be focused on the athletes, because this is their celebration after intense training and competition,” Yan said.

She said some components would also highlight Beijing’s status as the first city to host both the Summer and Winter Games – an achievement Chinese state media have used to promote these Winter Olympics.

Snowflakes for a common destiny

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Chief lighting designer Sha Xiaolan has revealed the “community of common destiny” – an oft-repeated phrase, which is also included in the Chinese Communist Party’s constitution – will be highlighted by the performance featuring nearly 1,000 actors.

The snowflake motif seen during the opening ceremony – which was used to symbolise global unity, particularly with the Olympic cauldron – will also make a return on Sunday night.

A reluctant farewell

This is the theme the creative team are hoping to leave viewers with at the end of the night.

“We wanted to bring the warmth of a reluctant goodbye to the rest of the world,” Sha told Chinese state broadcaster CCTV.

“So we used red as the base tone for the closing ceremony and hung nearly 20,000 lanterns in the stands to bring the audience into this interactive performance.”

The closing flame

The creative team has said the extinguishing of the Olympic cauldron will call back to the opening ceremony.

“The snowflake will be darkened layer by layer, until the torch at the centre is the only thing lit. That torch will be the last to be extinguished,” Sha told Beijing News.

“After a brief moment, the snowflake will reappear, symbolising that the Olympic flame and the Olympic spirit will continue to spread in the name of ice and snow.”

Next hosts for 2026 Games

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The next co-hosts of the Winter Games, Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo in Italy, will also give a teaser for what is to come.

After Beijing mayor Chen Jining passes the Olympic flag to his counterparts for the 2026 Winter Olympics, via International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach, a 10-minute performance will begin.

It will be mainly about the harmony of humanity and nature, according to Lida Castelli, the artistic director of the segment. Only a few performers will take part, because of the Covid-19 pandemic and the belief that “less is more”.

Among the performers for the segment are Milan-born singer Malika Ayane and violinist Giovanni Andrea Zanon, said Marco Balich, the creative director of Olympic ceremonies for the 2026 Olympics.

The 2026 Games will be the first Olympics to have two official host cities.

This article was first published in South China Morning Post.