Photos: 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics closing ceremony | Gallery News

The Olympic flame has been extinguished in Beijing, marking the end of the most locked-down Games in history.

It was the second pandemic Olympics in the more than two years since the coronavirus first emerged in China.

International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach, who has officially closed the Games at the Bird’s Nest stadium, praised China and thanked the people of the country for staging the Games in a safe way.

Participants were restricted to a COVID-safe bubble where they took daily tests, wore masks and observed strict protocols.

It “breaks our hearts” that some athletes could not attend because of the pandemic, Bach said.

The president of the International Olympic Committee and the mayor of Beijing handed over the Olympic flag to the mayors of Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo in Italy, which will host the 2026 Winter Games.

This is the first time two cities have officially hosted the Olympics together. Cortina hosted the games in 1956. This will be the third Winter Games in Italy – Turin hosted in 2006.

After three straight Olympics held in Asia – Pyeongchang, Tokyo and now Beijing – the Games head to the West for the foreseeable future, with no chance of returning until at least 2030.

The next Olympics will be the Summer Games in Paris in 2024.

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