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‘Ring’ ceremony evokes laughter

- Russia presents a sporting face, makes fun of self
Russian President Vladimir Putin poses with athletes, in Sochi, on Monday

Sochi: An emotional closing ceremony at Russia’s first Winter Olympics painted the hosts in soft colours, in contrast to the muscular, assertive spectacle that kicked off the Games, and there was even room for a joke at the home nation’s expense.

The show at the Fisht Stadium on the Black Sea coast opened with a volley of fireworks and a boat suspended high in the air above waves formed by lines of hundreds of dancers in shimmering costumes.

They began to form the five rings of the Olympic symbol, but, in a reference to an embarrassing technical hitch during the opening ceremony when one failed to open, only four circles appeared.

After laughs and loud applause from the audience, the fifth ring eventually opened, and the mood was immediately more playful than an opening spectacle which had sought to portray Russia as a strong nation with nothing to fear.

“They are two very complementary shows,” said Marco Balich, artistic executive producer of the ceremony, before it began. “As grand as the opening was, with this one they went for another side of Russia — intimate, full of heart, and they (organisers) mentioned the word ‘nostalgia’,” he said. It was as if Russia no longer had so much to prove.

“This is the new face of Russia, our Russia,” Dmitry Chernyshenko, president of the Sochi organising committee, said during his farewell speech.

T he sense of national pride at a team of athletes that topped the medals table after a “super Sunday” fairytale ending to the Games was palpable, as huge roars erupted for the Russian team as they paraded past the crowd.

International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach gave Russia a resounding vote of confidence in his closing address.

“Tonight we can say: Russia delivered all what it had promised,” he said. “What took decades in other parts of the world was achieved here in Sochi in just seven years.” (Reuters)