The Olympic Closing Ceremony celebrates the games, the athletes, the host country, and the handover to the next host country. Olympic traditions during the Closing Ceremony honor the Games' past Greek heritage, the present host's culture, and the future Games.
Here are the significant traditions to watch for:
1. Parade of Flags: Beginning with the Greek flag, specially chosen athletes from each participating country carry their country's flag through the Olympic stadium. The host country's flag is the last flag carried in the processional.
Fun Fact: Before the 1956 Olympics, participating athletes followed their country's flag during the Parade of Flags.
2. Parade of Athletes: Immediately after the Parade of Flags, participating athletes parade through the Olympic stadium, in no particular order. Sometimes the athletes choose to walk together in small groups by team, by sport, or with friends -- old and new. This tradition is symbolic of multi-national friendship.
Fun Fact: Symbolic of multi-national friendship, the television era often shows close-ups of the athletes mingling and having fun during the parade and throughout the Closing Ceremony events.
3. Final Medal Ceremony: The International Olympic Committee (IOC) decides which sport and event to award medals to during the Closing Ceremony. For the Summer Games, it is typically the marathon.
Fun Fact: In earlier Olympic times, all medals were awarded during the closing ceremony.
4. Handover to the Next Host Country: Lowering the Olympic flag and handing it over to the next host city, while the "Olympic Anthem" plays, symbolizes continuity of the Olympics.
Fun Fact: The Olympic flag is then displayed in the next host city's town hall over the next four years.
5. Declaration of Closing and Olympic Flame Extinguishment: The most dramatic of all Olympic Closing Ceremony events, the IOC president gives a closing speech and declares the Games officially closed and the Olympic flame is doused.
Fun Fact: The theme for the 2012 Summer Olympics Closing Ceremony is "'A Symphony of British Music".
Marla Mayes has enthusiastically watched the Olympics since Nadia Comaneci won the first perfect 10 in gymnastics.
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