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Winter Olympics Close in Circus-Like Atmosphere


The 20th Winter Olympics ended Sunday night in Turin, Italy. The theme for the closing ceremony was the Italian Carnival.

As the director of the Closing Ceremony called it, it was the party before the goodbyes. A huge set was constructed to replicate an Italian piazza, or square.

And by the end of the night, the Olympic Stadium capacity crowd of about 35,000 had seen colorfully outfitted dancers, clowns, acrobats and gymnasts, confetti and all kinds of pyrotechnics.

Entertainers for the big show included Italian tenor star Andrea Bocelli, popular Latin pop singer Ricky Martin and Canadian rock singer Avril Lavigne.

Valentino Castellani, president of Turin's Games organizing committee, said the Olympics was about building a culture of peace. "It has been a great celebration of sports," he said. "We learned that fair play and respect for your opponents are strong values of this fantastic event that we have lived together."

However, before Castellani could complete his speech, a young man in a black T-shirt breeched security and made it to the microphone and shouted the motto of these Olympic games, "Passion Lives Here."

The intruder was immediately ushered off by security.

Castellani's remarks were followed by those of International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge, who told the crowd to keep the Olympic flame burning in their hearts.

"Spread the Olympic dream in your countries," said Rogge. "You are the true ambassadors of our values. And give back to sport what it has given you."

Rogge added that the Turin Games were "truly magnificent," and then he announced their closure.

"And now, in accordance with tradition, I declare the 20th Olympic Winter Games closed and I call upon the youth of the world to assemble four years from now in Vancouver to celebrate the 21st Olympic Winter Games," he said.

The next Summer Games will be held in Beijing China in 2008.

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