The Closing Ceremony for the 2nd European Games here last night harked back to Belarus folk history - but also looked forward to the country’s burgeoning technological future.
Minsk 2019 involved numerous innovations to enhance fan experiences that have rarely been seen in multi-sports events before, such as the Games’ interactive chatbot, which allowed spectators to easily obtain information on everything from tickets to the latest results across social media outlets.
The Closing Ceremony began with the an edgy opening feature on the theme of the City of a Thousand Voices episode - an acknowledgement of Minsk’s many start-ups and their achievements, such as the messaging app Viber, which merged live action and the virtual world through the latest advances in augmented reality.
With athletes from 50 countries across Europe parading through Dinamo Stadium and taking their place in the Circle of Honour for one last time, the Ceremony sought to pay tribute to the sporting exploits over the past 10 days through a six-part video series dedicated to different themes of elite competition.
Beamed on to a 16-metre tall polyhedron representing the National Library of Belarus - the country’s most renowned architectural and intellectual landmark - each clip covered the emotions that every athlete experiences, namely hope, passion, inspiration, empathy, sadness and euphoria.
The crowd of 22,000 - illuminating the night sky with their smartphones and illuminated bracelets - were taken on an immersive journey through each and every one of these emotions through accompanying performances from dancers, aerial gymnasts and some of Belarus’ most iconic musical stars such as Iowa, J:Mors, Eurovision Song Contest representatives Naviband, Shuma, and Teslaboy.
But, while most of the celebration pointed towards the futurism of the digital age, it was embellished with symbols of Belarus’ culture going back through the centuries, with folklore bands performing a medley of traditional songs from across the six regions of the country throughout the athletes’ parade.
As in the Opening Ceremony, once again the giant Bison - a symbol of Belarus - appeared, this time with a poignant farewell message to the younger generation of Belarusians, reminding them never to forget their country’s past.
All the while a good proportion of the 8,700 volunteers who have made these Games were were housed on the infield, their wristbands glowing, dutifully fulfilling their last duties as they followed the prompts from surrounding screens which attempted to choregraph their movements with each musical item.
Lesik - the Games’ fox mascot -concluded proceedings after the competition had been officially declared closed as he recited the famous Na Kupalle poem by Yanka Kupala, one of the greatest Belarusian language writers of the 20th Century.