BEIJING (AP) -- With help from some British star power, China has concluded its debut as Olympic host.
A spectacular closing ceremony opened with torrents of fireworks and included a pulsating show-within-a-show by London, host of the 2012 Summer Games. From a stage formed from a red double-decker bus, Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page played classic rock hit "Whole Lotta Love." Soccer icon David Beckham booted a ball into the surrounding throng of athletes on the stadium floor.
Then more lyrical music returned, and the Olympic flame atop the stadium was extinguished.
Beijing saw 16 days of near-flawless logistics and superlative athletic achievement. But casting a shadow over the festivities was the Chinese government's wariness of dissent and free speech.
The International Olympic Committee, whose selection of Beijing was widely questioned, insists its choice had been vindicated.
During the closing ceremony, IOC President Jacques Rogge (zhahk ROH'-geh) declared, "These were truly exceptional games."
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