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IOC president Jacques Rogge closes Beijing Olympics

Olympics_Close International Olympic Committee (IOC) chief Jacques Rogge declared the Beijing Olympics officially closed Sunday bringing down the curtain on a glittering 16-day long sports extravaganza.

At the start of the ceremony, athletes from the 204 competing nations, who fought for 302 gold medals, sprinted into the stadium, mixing informally with one another in stark contrast to the orderly parade which accompanied the opening ceremony on August 8.

The final medal ceremony was easily the best attended as Kenya's Samuel Wanjiru, who won the men's marathon in searing heat earlier Sunday, received his gold medal from Rogge.

Once representatives of the thousands of volunteers as well as the new members of the IOC - including Russian swimming great Alexander Popov - had paraded into the stadium, the national anthem of Greece was played, heralding the arrival of Rogge for his closing speech.

The Olympic flag was then handed over to London mayor Boris Johnson.

The closing ceremony ended with a segment, featuring Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page and Leona Lewis singing the 1970s classic Whole Lotta Love while former England football captain David Beckham aimed a football from the top of a red, London double-deckerbus.

The Olympic flame burning high above the stadium was then extinguished.

Olympics_Close"the world learned more about China and China learned more about the world."

"New stars were born. Stars from past Games amazed us again. We shared their joys and their tears, and we marveled at their ability. We will long remember the achievements we witnessed here."

"As we celebrate the success of these Games, let us together wish the best for the talented athletes who will soon participate in the Paralympic Games. They also inspire us."

"To the athletes tonight: You were true role models. You have shown us the unifying power of sport. The Olympic spirit lives in the warm embrace of competitors from nations in conflict. Keep that spirit alive when you return home."

"These were truly exceptional Games!"

"And now, in accordance with tradition, I declare the Games of the 29th Olympiad closed, and I call upon the youth of the world to assemble four years from now in London to celebrate the Games of the 30th Olympiad."

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