PyeongChang 2018 Winter Paralympic Games Ends with Powerful Closing Ceremony

A traditional Korean dancer performs before extinguishing the Paralympic flame

The Closing Ceremony of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Paralympic Games began on Sunday night with the hoisting of the host country's flag while the national anthem rung out across the stadium.

After that, Arirang, the most popular Korean folk song that is often referred to as the unofficial national anthem of Korea, was performed in different regional styles by various groups of artist who brought together a wide range of genres in one harmonious voice.

National flags are carried into the Olympic Stadium by representatives of each NPC

Games volunteers pose for an Instagram-style photo after taking part in a presentation

Performance by a visually-impaired pianist

Performance by hearing-impaired ballerina

Then, flag bearers from all 49 participating countries of the Games entered the stadium. The PyeongChang Games had a record number of National Paralympic Committees, regions and athletes take part.

The organisers of the Games presented bouquets of flowers to the representatives of the Games volunteers, bringing to centre stage the people whose enthusiasm made the 10-day festival of sport possible.

It was followed by the announcement of the Whang Youn Dai Achievement Award, which is presented at every Paralympic Games as a tribute to Dr. Whang as well as a reminder of true Paralympic spirit.

Established 30 years ago, the award is presented to one male and one female athlete who, during the Games, demonstrated profound courage, determination, spirit and will.

In a change from past Paralympics, Dr. Whang herself presented Finnish cross-country and biathlon athlete Sini Pyy and New Zealand's Adam Hall, an alpine skier, with the award.

Korea's first female doctor with an impairment, Dr. Whang devoted her life to the rehabilitation of Koreans with impairments through sport. Dr. Whang received a medal from the awardees in return.

After a performance by a dancer with a hearing impairment, the Paralympic flag was handed over to Beijing, the host of the next Winter Olympics and Paralympics in 2022.

President and CEO of the PyeongChang 2018 Games Lee Hee-beom said, “Transcending the differences of race and religion, nationality and gender, we laughed together, cried together, and shared together a true friendship and fraternity.

"The PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games connected the world as one, and South and North Korean athletes also raised together the Paralympic Torch. The Paralympic Flame, as it may extinguish, will bring together the world forever in a spirit of peace far beyond the Korean Peninsula,” Lee said.

In his speech, International Paralympic Committee President Andrew Parsons referenced the late Professor Stephen Hawking, a world-renowned theoretical physicist and sufferer of motor neurone disease who passed away just days ago.

“He urged us all to ‘Look at the stars, and not at our feet’. And, over the last 10 days, the stars have shone brightly here in PyeongChang. While Hawking tested the limits of his imagination, Paralympians, you have once again pushed the boundaries of human endeavour,” said Parsons.

The Paralympic flame was dramatically extinguished by a Korean traditional dancer and accompanying musicians. While the sorrowful high-pitched sound of daegeum (Korean bamboo flute) played by a one-handed flautist harmonised with the raw and soulful singing of a traditional pansori singer.

Filling the stadium, the dancer performed Dosalpuri, a folk dance which has traditionally been performed to remove evil spirits.

The flame was slowly extinguished as the dancer put her palms together towards the cauldron bringing to an end the Games in the Republic of Korea.

The Paralympic flag is handed to Beijing Mayor Chen Jining by IPC President Andrew Parsons

Fireworks explode as the Paralympic flame is extinguished #1

Fireworks explode as the Paralympic flame is extinguished #2

Bandabi, the PyeongChang Paralympic mascot, waves to the crowd

The passion shown by everyone at the PyeongChang Games will certainly be carried on to Tokyo. The Tokyo Organising Committee will continue to be committed to preparing a stage for 2020 where the athletes can perform at their best and the spectators and all other people involved can enjoy the Games.

PyeongChang to Tokyo