Sapporo, Japan, February 26, 2017: The biggest Asian Winter Games in history came to an emotional close at the Makomanai Ice Skating Rink on a snowy Sunday evening in Sapporo.
Mr Timothy Fok, Vice President of the Olympic Council of Asia, declared the Games closed, describing Sapporo 2017 as a “fantastic Games for athletes, officials and spectators alike”.
With a record number of athletes, 1,200, from a record number of National Olympic Committees, 32, the 8th AWG had set a new benchmark in Asia, said Mr Fok.
“Sapporo is truly the home of the Asian Winter Games and everyone feels at home here,” he added.
“The snow-covered mountains, the warm hospitality of the hosts, the perfect organisation…the OCA could not have asked for more. They have been wonderful – and we shall be back again. Sayonara Sapporo!”
The evening had started with the arrival of His Imperial Highness the Crown Prince, followed by a mini show on ice by a selection of medal-winners, as well as the star of the show – mascot Ezomon.
After a short break to cover sections of the ice with red carpet for the parade of athletes, official speeches and the extinguishing of the flame, the flags of the 32 teams were carried into the arena, including guest teams Australia and New Zealand.
The parade of athletes followed, before the Mayor of Sapporo and President of the organising committee SAWGOC, Mr Katsuhiro Akimoto, addressed the audience.
“It is a great honour to have His Imperial Highness the Crown Prince with us,” he said.
The Mayor also congratulated the athletes for their efforts and said he was sure that their performances had shown the joy of winter sports and would motivate children to take up winter sports, contributing to peace in Asia.
His Imperial Highness, who had opened the 8th AWG at Sapporo Dome on February 19, said the largest AWG in OCA history had produced “dramatic moments” and created friendly experiences through sport.
“The Games brought a lot of smiles and emotion,” said HIH the Crown Prince, who told the audience he had skied the cross-country course at Shirahatayama, leading him to admire the athletes for producing a “strenuous effort” to the end.
He concluded by saying that sport would produce international friendship and lead to peace around the world.
With the next host city still to be finalised, the OCA flag was passed from Sapporo Mayor Mr Akimoto to the Japanese Olympic Committee President, Mr Tsunekazu Takeda, to the OCA Vice President Mr Fok.
The extinguishing of the Olympic flame in the cauldron was accompanied by some bursts of fireworks and the release of silver paper and fake snow to finish a delightful ceremony on a wintry theme.