Myanmar returns to international stage with successful SEA Games: A spectacular Closing Ceremony brought down the curtain on the 27th Southeast Asian Games in Myanmar on Sunday night,
- as the hosts proved they could put on a highly successful Games in their return to the international stage after decades of isolation under military rule.
In the capital of Naypyidaw, the Closing Ceremony thrilled the capacity crowd of 30,000 with fireworks, animation, and thousands of dancers.
The 27th edition of the SEA Games was given to Myanmar as a reward for the nation’s reforms undertaken by President Thein Sein, who was himself present at both the opening and closing ceremonies.
It had been 44 years since Myanmar had last hosted the SEA Games, and there were some doubters as to whether they could pull the event off.
But the country proved the doubters wrong as it clearly enjoyed its host status in a rare chance to bask in the international limelight.
As Presidential spokesman Ye Htut said on his Facebook page, “Some local and international observers thought Myanmar could not host the SEA Games. They were wrong.”
The closing ceremony featured thousands of dancers performing scenes from Myanmar’s history with an animated background broadcast on giant screens.
Hundreds of teenage boys and girls performed a synchronised demonstration of the local cane-ball game called chinlone, followed by scores of costumed drummers pounding out a rhythm for an array of dancers.
China supported the opening and closing ceremonies in cash and expertise, which had re-emerged onto the international stage with the Beijing Olympic Games in 2008.
A SEA Games official thanked China for its support at the closing ceremony, which amounted to $33 million, according to officials.
While the SEA Games may be little known outside the region, they give athletes from lesser sporting nations a chance to shine, and for the 11 competing countries are a source of local bragging rights, said a Bangkok Post report.
Thailand topped the final medals tally with 107 gold medals, while Myanmar finished second with 87 gold.
Singapore will host the next SEA Games in 2015.