Fireworks explode during the closing ceremony of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games at the National Stadium August 24, 2008. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon
BEIJING (Reuters) - The Beijing Olympics ended with a blaze of deafening fireworks on Sunday, bringing down the curtain on a Games that dazzled the world with sporting brilliance and showcased the might of modern day China.
The sporting extravaganza failed to quell criticism of China's human rights record, although the International Olympic Committee (IOC) gave the organizers the thumbs-up and said the Games would leave a positive legacy for future generations.
"Tonight we come to the end of 16 glorious days we will cherish forever," IOC President Jacques Rogge told the 91,000-strong crowd in the Bird's Nest stadium.
"The world learned more about China, and China learned more about the rest of the world," he said. "These were truly exceptional Games."
The IOC said 43 world records and 132 Olympic records were broken in China, which spent $43 billion on the event -- three times more than the budget for the 2012 Games in London.
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