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Last Updated: Sunday, 26 February 2006, 21:31 GMT
Colourful finale for Turin Games
The Olympic Rings are lit up at the Games
The Olympic Rings are lit up at the closing ceremony in Turin
The 2006 Winter Games was officially closed by International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge amid a carnival and circus celebration.

The closing ceremony, which ended with an array of fireworks at Turin's Stadio Olympico, featured Ricky Martin and Andrea Bocelli among 2,350 performers.

As it reached its finale, Rogge said: "I declare the 20th Winter Olympic Games closed.

"I call upon the youth of the world to assemble in four years in Vancouver."

The Games then officially ended with an eight-minute piece produced by the Vancouver 2010 organisers before the final celebrations.

Prior to their presentation, the Olympic flag was handed to Vancouver mayor Sam Sullivan, a quadriplegic since breaking his neck skiing at the age 19, who used a specially-modified electric wheelchair to unfurl the banner.

I promise we shall continue to fight for a pure and healthy sport
IOC president Jacques Rogge
"We want to send the message that our focus is on ability rather than disability," said John Furlong, chief executive of the Vancouver Olympic organising committee, just prior to the ceremony.

Among the other big names in the crowd were former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and motorsport legend Mario Andretti.

All of the athletes attending were handed red clown noses as they entered the stadium to enable them to join in with the circus atmosphere, while the 35,000 spectators were given devil and angel masks.

The athletes swarmed into the stadium en masse, with each of the countries taking part represented by a flag bearer. Great Britain's flag bearer was silver medallist Shelley Rudman.

Clowns on swings, acrobats dangling high above the stage, dancers dressed as Tarot cards and an array of Italian transport, including vintage Fiat 500s, were among the ceremony's main attractions.

A portestor is bundled away by security in the final stages of the ceremony
A protestor briefly disrupted Sunday's closing ceremony
Despite such varying acts, the biggest cheer of the night belonged to Italy's Giorgio di Centa, who was awarded his gold for winning the 50km cross-country race - the penultimate event of the Games.

Appropriately he was handed his medal by his sister Manuela, a five-time Winter Olympian, two-time gold medallist and IOC member.

Security had been tight throughout with the airspace for an 8km radius around Turin closed for the duration of the ceremony.

But despite tight security one protestor briefly managed to make his way to the stage as event organiser Valentino Castellani bade farewell to the Games.

Rogge then followed Castellani's speech to praise both the Italian organisers and the athletes, calling it a "magnificent Games" but he also used the farewell to raise the doping issue once more.

"The IOC fights untiringly against doping to protect you," he said. "I promise we shall continue to fight for a pure and healthy sport."


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