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Beijing Olympics End, U.S. To Watch Closing Ceremony Later

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AFP reports that International Olympic Committee (IOC) chief Jacques Rogge has declared the Beijing Olympics officially closed, bringing down the curtain on a glittering 16-day long sports extravaganza. However, this is not news here in the United States yet, as NBC using its exclusive coverage rights will show the Olympic Closing Ceremony from Beijing only this evening at 7PM.

Voice of America reports the following:

The 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing end Sunday with an elaborate closing ceremony including a cast of thousands and British superstars.

Highlights include a duet by tenor Placido Domingo and Chinese soprano Song Zuying, as well as a display by several hundred martial artists.

Although criticism of China's human rights was persistent on the sidelines of the Games, Beijing appears to have gotten what it wanted as host.

Many have praised China's flawless handling of the logistics for the Games, and Beijing led the gold medal total (51).

The United States won the most medals overall - 110, China came in second with 100, and Russia was third with 72 medals.

Today's closing ceremony is expected to wow spectators much like the opening. Once again, oscar-nominated Chinese filmmaker Zhang Yimou is directing.

While most of the ceremony remains a secret, the next Olympic host - London - will put on an eight minute show part way through the celebration.

During Britain's segment, Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page and British singer Leona Lewis will perform.

Afterwards, British football (soccer) star David Beckham will kick a ball out into the crowd from the top of red double-decker bus.

At its climax, Beijing's mayor will hand an Olympic torch to his London counterpart - Boris Johnson. London is to host the 2012 Olympic Games.

Some information for this report was provided by AP. - VOA News

Radio Netherlands reports that IOC president satisfied with Beijing Games

President of the International Olympic Committee Jacques Rogge is satisfied with the Beijing Games. At a closing conference, he stressed that the IOC is not a political organisation, and cannot force countries to change. He pointed out that the Games had focused the world's attention on China and that the environment in Beijing had improved considerably. He appealed to the Chinese not to withdraw the freedoms granted to the international press when the Paralympics end.

The most poignant moment for the IOC president was when the Russian and Georgian medal winners in the air pistol competition hugged each other three days after fighting broke out in South Ossetia. He said the greatest individual performances were by US swimmer Michael Phelps and Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt.

Mr Rogge refused to comment on which country had won the games: China with the most gold medals or the US with the most medals.

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