Taking place in Beijing National Stadium at 20:00 CST on 17 September 2008, the Beijing 2008 Paralympics Closing Ceremony was the last official part of the Games that year. Its themes included the shaping of the future and the togetherness of people doing so, thereby also echoing the slogan of “One World, One Dream” used throughout the Games.
Starting with a segment on writing a post card for the future, members of the audience were encouraged to write their own wishes for the future on postcards by cartoonish figures resembling postmen. In the middle of the stadium, a field of grass with flowers sown on it, spelling “A Letter to the Future” in Chinese and English, was used as the stage for the Beijing Paralympics Closing Ceremony. Afterwards, the athletes and flags of all participating countries entered the stadium and took their places.
Before the start of the ceremony and to prepare for it, a countdown from 23 was shown on screen, accompanied by highlights of the Paralympic Games and numerals in Chinese and Latin characters. Fireworks were lit in celebration and the Closing Ceremony was officially opened with the raising of the Chinese flag and the playing of the Chinese national anthem. After this official start, the 2008 Whang Youn Dai Achievement Award was given to Said Gomez of Panama and Natalie du Toit of South Africa.
The new members of the IPC Athlete Council were introduced, presenting flowers to all volunteers and extending to them the gratitude of the IPC and all athletes participating in the Games.
Picking up the idea of “A Letter to the Future”, the development of a better future for all was performed and explained by following the lifecycle of plants, from sowing (writing up your wishes for the future), watering (working towards a better future in pursuit of your dreams) and harvesting (benefitting together from having worked together to create a better future) to, finally, celebration of the harvest.
The postmen, who had encouraged people to write up their wishes for the future, now delivered those wishes to the athletes one by one. More postcards to the future were dropped into a post box in the middle of the stadium as part of the performance “Mail it to the Future”, with China Post later sending these postcards to destinations all over the world.
Following the performances and the mailing, concluding speeches were held by Liu Qi, President of the Organising Committee, and IPC President Sir Philip Craven.
As is customary, the Paralympic Flag was lowered to symbolise the closing of the Games. It was then handed over to Boris Johnson, mayor of London. A double-decker bus, a London icon that was already used in the Olympic Games handover was used again, this time driven by Paralympian Ade Adepitan.
After the handover ceremony, the Paralympic Flame was extinguished and the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games officially closed.