SOCHI, Russia (AP) -- Flushed with pride after its athletes' spectacular showing at the costliest Olympics ever, Russia celebrated Sunday night with a visually stunning finale that handed off a smooth but politically charged Winter Games to their next host, Pyeongchang in South Korea.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, these Olympics' political architect and booster-in-chief, watched and smiled as Sochi gave itself a giant pat on the back for a Winter Games that IOC President Thomas Bach declared an "extraordinary success."
The crowd that partied in Fisht Olympic Stadium, in high spirits after the high-security games passed safely without feared terror attacks, hooted with delight when Bach said Russia delivered on promises of "excellent" venues, "outstanding" accommodation for the 2,856 athletes and "impeccable organization." The spectators let out an audibly sad moan when Bach declared the 17-day Winter Games closed.
"We leave as friends of the Russian people," Bach said.