The Olympic bubble, which is closed off after the closing ceremony on Sunday, has been filled with amazing athletes doing great things . The 17-day journey has been seen through a sealed-off viewing glass. This lens was sterilized and warped by Beijing's organizing committee, with support from the Chinese government.
The International Olympic Committee is the ultimate sponsor. It has come under fire for producing Games many feel are soulless, while also being corrupted by scandals and political posturing.
Gus Kenworthy , a freestyle skier, stated that "sometimes it doesn't seem as if their heart is in right place." It feels like it is a greed game. The Olympics are amazing. It's just a TV program.
The IOC is resigning from Beijing and has only 29 months to reset and create a new, COVID-free, and better atmosphere for the Summer Games in Paris.
It remains to be seen if the Olympic overseers can restore their reputations in a democratic and more welcoming environment so that people, most notably the declining TV audience and the growing number of athletes, start to enjoy the enterprise again.
They'll need to remember some images:
Peng Shuai, a tennis player, and Thomas Bach the IOC President are pictured together to witness Eileen Gu win her first gold medal as freeskier.
The thousands of test subjects, covered in personal protective gear and pushing athletes' throats every day for mandatory COVID-19 screenings.
Kim Meylemans (a sobbing Belgian Skeleton Racer), going on social media to plead for her release from quarantine
The Russian doping scandal is all disturbingly encapsulated in the image of Kamila Valieva, a 15-year-old figure skating coach, crying after her long, disastrous program.
Robert Thompson, a Syracuse professor of pop culture, said that Valieva's performance on Thursday was riveting television.
Thompson stated, "Surprisingly weird and hyper-dramatic." "Yet today I searched the halls in vain to locate anyone who had ever seen it or heard about it. For 40 years I have been closely following the Olympics and I have never seen it in such silence or buzz.
The Nielsen Company reported that prime-time viewership on NBC ( , which pays the lion’s share of these Games ) as well as its streaming service, Peacock was down by 42 percent from a 2018 Games, which didn't fare so well.
It is easy to explain this by pointing at the ever-increasing number of viewing options as well as the time difference. This was the third consecutive Winter Games being held in Asia.
The fact that the IOC had no choice but to go to China and authoritarian Russia for its two last Winter Olympics demonstrates how little people care. It is hard to find cities willing to pay the Games' costs, and then share the heat with IOC over years.
The IOC had only one option for 2022: Kazakhstan. Therefore, the decision by the IOC to hand over one its crown jewels (the IOC's crown jewel) to China was made with compromises.
The Chinese government and Beijing's organizing committee took extreme measures in order to stop the COVID-19 virus from spreading, which was discovered within its borders two year ago. It made subtle, but persistent, suggestions that any issues that make headlines in China, such as Uyghurs and pollution, or human rights, Taiwan, Hong Kong, were not to be discussed.
The IOC's much-discussed, but somewhat liberalized Olympic demonstration rules were gently reminded to athletes that they are secondary to China's laws and customs which don't encourage dissent. What is the penalty for violating? No one was certain. These Games brought with them the threat of a negative test, possibly from the future, that could bring an athlete down before they even begin.
Many countries advised their athletes not to use their phones at home because of the possibility of cyberhacks by government agencies and information harvesting.
Rob Koehler of Global Athlete asked, "How can an environment where you know that you're being monitored bring about commonality?" "There is no joy in all of that."
There were many beautiful moments as well as others that brought out the emotions in a way only the Olympics can.
Shaun White's goodbye to snowboarding was a touching moment. Mikaela Shiffrin's unflinching attitude in the face of her setbacks was a reminder there is more to these games than just getting medals.
Gu might be China's favourite story. Gu, an 18-year-old skier, made history when she became the first person to win three Olympic medals for winter action-sports. She won two golds as well as a silver.
Gu, who is American, chose to compete in the Games for China's motherland. However, her good intentions aside it was clear that these Games are not political.
Cynics attacked the IOC for using Peng, the Chinese tennis champion to Gu's first competition. Their safety was in doubt for months.
The Olympics are primarily a celebration of sport, where the whole world gathers for two weeks to forget their problems. They are not allowed to engage in politics.
Many people saw the end of this worldview on Day 1 , when Russian President Vladimir Putin joined Bach, China's president, Xi Jinping at the opening ceremony.
The facade fell apart and became more jumbled when Bach denigrated Russia. "It was chilling watching" Valieva being berated by her coach, he stated -- then a Kremlin spokesperson denounced Bach.
The story of Beijing Games was told more vividly by the 15-year old skater than any other athlete's misery.
The IOC knew that when the Russian doping scandals began to unfold, it was shortly after the 2014 Sochi Games had ended, that the reports, meetings and chaos would mostly take place away from the Games and not be visible to the public.
You can view the Valieva case as a result of all the half measures taken to sanction Russia. Her drama occurred while the party was still in full swing. It obscurity clouded almost every aspect of Games that had already experienced problems.
"We are unhappy because what we love most about sport is its authentic pioneering struggle for redefine the possible or to compete head-to-head, pouring every measure into the effort," Max Cobb wrote this weekend in an essay.
Cobb said, "It's an amazing mix of awe e honest effort that inspires," except when it's not.