Reuters - Mon, 01 Mar 23:35:00 2010
Thousands of athletes, spectators and media headed for the exit on Monday as Vancouver cleaned up after a Winter Olympics that after a rough start is now being hailed as a success.
Crews scurried around downtown Vancouver cleaning up trash left by the thousands of people who jammed themselves into the area to celebrated Canada's ice hockey gold medal win just before the Games closing celebration on Sunday.
A few straggling tourists took pictures of zeros on the face of the downtown clock that had counted down to the Olympics during the years of preparations and kept time as the Games progressed.
The outdoor cauldron stood flameless on Vancouver's waterfront, but gone were the crowds that pressed up against a fence to view it during the Games. The fence will be taken down soon, but the cauldron will remain as a monument.
More than a few people appeared to have lost their voices cheering during the game, that ended with Canada winning 3-2 on an overtime goal, including Gordon Campbell, premier of host province British Columbia.
"I threw my voice into the arena when Sidney Crosby scored," Campbell said in a news conference with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who declared the event a success for the entire country.
Predicted chaos at Vancouver International Airport's as an estimated 33,000 people attempted to leave on Monday failed to materialise, avoiding a problem that had plagued some past Olympics such as Salt Lake City in 2002.
Visiting journalists had been warned to arrive 4 hours before their flight to allow sufficient time for screening, but two Reuters reporters who followed that advice found themselves processed in less than 15 minutes.
Vancouver Games organisers will now turn their attention to the Paralympics, for athletes with disabilities, that will begin on March 12 and run until March 21, using many of the same venues.