A spectacular sayonara by xfy80579


									                                     A spectacular savonara

In a spectacular sayonara, 5,000 fireworks   the time for dreams and magic; and for        al Japanese bonfires and forty young
lit up the Nagano night sky to provide an    almost two hours, the arena became a          girls, messengers from the gods, entered
explosive, but poignant farewell to the      dream world for the 50,000 spectators         the arena scattering flowers to welcome
last Olympic Winter Games of the second      and athletes as the people of Nagano          the athletes into the sacred space of the
millennium.                                  performed a series of matsuri or tradi-       Olympic stadium.
The closing ceremony of the XVIII            tional festivals.                             With comedian Kin’ichi Hagimoto,
Olympic Winter Games was a memorable         The history of Nagano prefecture was          dressed as a circus ringmaster, playing the
curtain-call to 16 days of competition       played out in music and dance: a mixture      role of master of ceremonies, the athletes
which had brought together some 2,300        of the spectacular and the simple, stirring   made their entrance led by Greece.
athletes from 72 countries.                  rhythms on massive drums and plaintive        Students from schools, paired with each
The Minami Nagano Sports Park,               notes on Japanese flutes.                     of the 72 competing nations. were at the
dwarfed by the impressive backdrop of        In almost cathedral silence, the ceremony     head of the delegations, accompanied by
the Japanese Alps, reverberated to the       began with the dimming of the stadium         the NOC flag bearers.
pulsing beat of hundreds of drums. and       lights, the darkness invaded by the flames    The music for the twenty-minute parade,
the stadium was ablaze with a myriad of      from the six-metre-high Olympic caul-         an original composition in four move-
dazzling colours from costumes and ban-      dron supported on four pillars 24 metres      ments, was stirring, reflecting its Japanese
ners.                                        above the ground.                             folk-song roots.
Unlike the opening of the Games, the         Then, to the accompaniment of mournful        Photo-snapping American athletes
closing ceremony was staged at night,        music, flames erupted from the tradition-     marched in waving a banner saying

                                                            Odaiko drums.

                                        N          A           G          A           N   O

                                                                                          nobles in the Heian Period more than
                                                                                          800 years ago.
                                                                                          While the banner bearers circled the are-
                                                                                          na, another 155 drummers entered the
                                                                                          stadium adding to the waves of the
                                                                                          sound. The blowing of conch horns then
                                                                                          brought about a change of rhythm for
                                                                                          the Shishimai Lion Mask dance and the
                                                                                          Lion Dance of Ruriji Temple featuring a
                                                                                          seven-metre covered float. Inside the
                                                                                          float. thirty people performed the dance.
                                                                                          The lion sequence ended with the drum-
                                                                                          mers and flautists playing the haunting
                                                                                          composition Reverberations of the Myriad
                                                                                          The present and the future were symbol-
                                                                                          ized in the passing of the Olympic flag to
            Deedee Corradini, mayor of Salt Lake City, carrying the Olympic flag.
        To her right are the IOC President and the mayor of Nagano, Tasuku Tsukada.       Salt Lake City, and the 2002 hosts
                                                                                          stamped their image on the Games by
“Thank you Nagano”, and inviting every-        flute and 12 tetsuzutsu metal percussion   bringing a taste of the Wild West to
one to the XIX Olympic Winter Games in         instrument players mounting the centre     Nagano. With an inflatable arch and
Salt Lake City in 2002. But their reception    stage. soon to be encircled by 154 drum-   mountain range providing a backcloth,
was tame compared to that of the               mers and rhythm keepers performing a       six horseback riders and a four-horse
Japanese, who received rapturous               piece of music which entertained the       frontier stagecoach burst into the stadium
applause, particularly from the Emperor                                                   and went through their paces.
and Empress, as they bowed in tradition-                                                  Salt Lake City’s display gave way to the
al manner.                                                                                speeches, and to President Samaranch’s
Having made a lap around the arena, the                                                   impressions of Nagano. Each word was
athletes took their appointed seats and                                                   carefully c h o s e n . “Congratulations
the colourful spectacle gathered pace                                                     Nagano. Congratulations Japan. You pre-
with 900 locals performing traditional                                                    sented to the world the best organization
matsuri festival dances and songs.                                                        in the history of the Olympic Winter
Young girls took the centre stage for the                                                 Games”, he said. He expressed his plea-
“Sasara Dance” keeping time with bam-                                                     sure that the UK resolution calling for a
boo-stick percussion instruments. Then                                                    cessation of hostilities during the Games
four ponies decorated with flowers                                                        had been observed: “We hope that the
accompanied by twenty retainers entered                                                   observance of the Olympic Truce during
the stadium followed by a group of chil-                                                  the Nagano Olympic Winter Games has
dren carrying a portable shrine in which                                                  served the purpose of searching for
the centrepiece was a straw horse.                                                        peaceful and diplomatic solutions to the
The scene was a representation of the                                                      conflicts we are facing today”.
Flower Horse Festival, a 280-year-old tra-                                                He then officially closed the XVIII
dition which is part of a Shinto harvest                                                   Olympic Winter Games, inviting the
ceremony held at the Itsumiya Shrine in                                                   youth of the world to assemble in Salt
Nagano Prefecture.                                                                         Lake City in four year’s time, before sign-
Back on stage, the end of the “Sasara                                                      ing off in Japanese: “Arigato Nagano, Say-
Dance” gave way to the pounding rhythm                                                     onara Nippon”.
of four giant odaiko drums, heralding a                                                    The Olympic flag was lowered and the
parade by 300 marchers bearing colour-                                                     Olympic flame extinguished, leaving the
ful seven-metre high banners.                                                              stadium in darkness. Then the Nagano
The tempo increased with eight yokohue               The Olympic flame is extinguished     City Children’s Choir. holding paper

                                                                                          The US athletes during the Closing Ceremony.

                                                                                          Appropriately the fireworks display end-
                                                                                          ed with the appearance of a snowflower,
                                                                                          the emblem of the Nagano Games.
                                                                                          Nagano was now fully in party mode.
                         Horses and riders from Salt Lake City.
                                                                                          The Japanese pop group Agharta sang
lanterns, entered the arena to join the       But show was far from over as 5,000 fire-   Let’s Make a Circle and Dance, the theme
famous Japanese vocalist Anri singing My      works exploded into action in dazzling      song of the Snowlets mascots. The ath-
Hometown, on of Japan’s best-loved            eight minutes of cascading colours sym-     letes joined in and the spectators danced
melodies.                                     bolizing the four seasons - cherry blos-    their way out of the stadium ready to
The audience added to the illuminations       soms for spring, sunflowers for summer,     continue their celebrations.
with handled battery-operating lanterns,      chrysanthemums for autumn and snow
gently swaying in time with the music.        for winter.                                 Morley Myers

Images from the Closing Ceremony

The IOC President (centre) with the leaders of
   NAOC, who received the Olympic Order:
 (left to right) Tasuku Tsukada, Eishiro Saito,
   Goro Yoshimura and Makoto Kobayashi.


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