Page last updated at 15:31 GMT, Sunday, 24 August 2008 16:31 UK

The Olympics: International views

China has brought down the curtain on the 2008 Olympics with a spectacular closing ceremony in the Bird's Nest Stadium.

The President of the International Olympic Committee, Jacques Rogge, said the Games had been "truly exceptional".

BBC News website readers from around the world have been telling us what the Olympic games mean in their countries.

PUHUP VERMA, NEW DELHI, INDIA

Abhinav Bindra has taken India's first gold medal and we are all overjoyed. There has been a huge reaction, the whole country is very proud and happy.

Photo: Puhup Verma
Puhup Verma is proud of shooter Abhinav Bindra's gold medal
Usually the Olympics aren't much of a big deal in India. Cricket is the sport that we get really passionate about.

If there was a cricket event on the same scale as the Olympics the whole country would have to shut down!

We don't get many Olympic medals as there is very little investment in sport in India. The facilities are a shambles. The sports bodies don't have enough money. Children do play a lot of sport in school but the majority of parents don't really encourage it.

People who are good at sport are assumed to be weak in academic subjects - a lot of Indian parents believe that being a doctor or successful professional is the ultimate goal in life.

Bindra is from a very wealthy background so he had money to fund his equipment and training. Finance is a problem for Indian athletes - that's why so many people's careers end in the early stages.

I think now we have a medal this may change. Indians have seen that they can achieve Olympic success.

ANNA KOBZEVA, MOSCOW, RUSSIA

People here in Moscow are watching the Olympics and discussing the athletes a lot.

I've seen people out celebrating our gold medal successes on the streets, waving flags and partying.

Russia's Buvaysa Saytiev wins gold for Olympic wrestling
Buvaysa Saytiev celebrates his gold medal in the wrestling
That would never have happened five years or so ago. I think it's because Russians have found new pride in our country.

Olympic medals are important to Russians but not nearly as important as just watching our athletes take part. We feel that the main thing is for them to train hard and do their best.

Some people feel that winning matters but I'm not one of them. Results are subjective - they don't always show who is the best.

The sports we excel in and love watching are wrestling and judo. This is because our Prime Minister, Vladimir Putin, loves Judo.

This has been a difficult Olympics for Russia. It's hard for our athletes to compete when their country is practically at war in Ossetia.

It's a credit to their professionalism that they have done so well. I think that Russia does well in the medals table because of this strong spirit.

KIBREWERK AKALU, ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA

Ethiopia's Kenenisa Bekele has won our fourth Olympic gold medal and we are all so happy. This is truly a great day for Ethiopia.

The whole country is celebrating and singing "Kenenisa is a lion"! Everyone in Ethiopia was watching and expecting him to win - he is our champion.

Ethiopia's Kenenisa Bekele
Ethiopia's Kenenisa Bekele
Gold medals are very important in Ethiopia - it has made us so proud. Our athletes have shown such courage and determination that they have inspired the whole country.

The Ethiopian economy is not strong and the country has struggled but I think our runners have shown us that we can succeed. Ethiopians in all walks of life can learn from their hard work and determination.

Ethiopia is not a rich country and the government doesn't have much money to invest in sport, even if they wanted to.

Many of our long distance runners have trained themselves by running in the mountains.

We do so well in long distance running because it's tradition in Ethiopia. The great marathon runner Abebe Bikila won the Olympic gold in 1960, running in bare feet.

His achievement inspired Ethiopians to excel at long distance running.

JOHN SAUTER, NEW JERSEY, USA

I would say that American interest in the Olympics has faded since the 1980s. During the cold war years, watching the Olympics was thrilling.

The US and the Soviet Union dominated various sports and competed heavily.

Winning medals used to be as important as national pride but now there is less tension in the world, there is less competition.

Photo: John Sauter
John Sauter believes US interest in the Olympics has faded since the 1980s
The Olympics used to be covered heavily on one network so everyone was watching and talking about it.

Now we have hundreds of cable channels and I haven't heard people discussing the athletes much this time - except for Michael Phelps.

Americans don't care nearly as much about the Olympics as we do about supporting local sports teams.

Team sports like basketball and football really dominate in the US, that's what people get passionate about.

We are doing pretty well in the medals table and I guess that's expected. Maybe we have got complacent about doing well in the Olympics.

I'd love to see what happened if we didn't get gold medals - that would get a reaction!

CECILIA LI, GUANG ZHOU, CHINA

As China is the host this year it means a lot to the Chinese people that the Olympic games go well. We want to show the world the modern China.

I'm crazy for the Olympics. I have been watching the games religiously. I'm living in the UK at the moment so have been cheering for team GB as well as the Chinese athletes.

I'm crazy for the Olympics. I have been watching the games religiously

We're happy that China is top of the medals table but the most important thing is that our athletes do their best and enjoy the Olympics.

I find it really funny that different countries have different medal ranking systems to show themselves at the top!

I'm not surprised China are doing well as sport is important in China, everybody is keen to keep fit and healthy.

The Chinese basketball player Yao Ming carried the Chinese flag during the ceremony and is probably the Chinese equivalent of David Beckham. The games have been amazing so far. It makes me very proud to be Chinese.

LISA LEWIS, KINGSTON, JAMAICA

Everyone in Jamaica is out celebrating dressed in our national colours. All the shops in Kingston have sold out of Jamaica t-shirts.

Photo: Lisa Lewis
Lisa Lewis celebrating Jamaica's Olympic medals with friends

When Usain Bolt won, we celebrated all night, even my 105 year old grandmother. I don't think that Jamaican businesses got any work done that day - we were all too busy partying!

We love sport in Jamaica and have great faith in our athletes. I think the hurricanes have made us a resilient country.

When Asafa Powell didn't win the first time we didn't dwell on the failure and had faith in him. Then he won the gold - we were so proud, we couldn't have asked for more.

I think we do well as athletics can be a way out of poverty and hard circumstances. When our athletes succeed they always want to give back to the community that helped them. Children in the Caribbean are also very active- we don't have that video game culture.

We can't wait to welcome back our athletes with a huge party. Usain Bolt is well known in the clubs where I live - everyone knows he loves to dance!

Now we're really looking forward to London 2012 to see what our athletes can do.

JAMSHED ARYAN, BAGHLAN PROVINCE, AFGHANISTAN

Jamshed Aryan
Jamshed Aryan hopes sport can inspire young people in Afghanistan

Watching Afghanistan win its first Olympic medal was one of the greatest moments of hope and pride for all Afghans. Everyone who owns a TV set was watching the Olympics.

I watched with my whole family and when Rohullah Nikpai won we all cried tears of joy. Everyone is so proud of him and our country.

Afghanistan has competed in the Olympics since the 1930s but we have never won a medal. It's a struggle for us to compete as there are hardly any sports facilities.

Many Afghan children go out to work from a young age so miss out on an education, let alone the opportunity to play sports.

Rohullah Nikpai is from a deprived background which makes his success even more inspirational.

It shows the resiliance and courage of the Afghan nation that after so many years of destruction we can be equal with other countries and compete on the world stage.

Larger, wealthier countries expect to win medals and should be proud of their athletes but for us it is such a surprise that it means much more.

People have been celebrating in Kandahar and Helmand, areas where the Taliban recruits. I hope that sport can be an inspiration for unemployed Afghan youths and they will take a new direction.


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