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New Year: Australia, first country to welcome 2023

Fireworks explode over Sydney Harbour during the New Year's Eve celebrations in Sydney, Australia, January 1, 2023. REUTERS/Jaimi Joy

Australia celebrated its first restriction-free New Year’s Eve after two years of COVID disruptions, as the world began bidding farewell to a year marked for many by the war in Ukraine, economic stresses and the effects of global warming.

Sydney welcomed the New Year with a typically dazzling fireworks display, which for the first time featured a rainbow waterfall off the Harbour Bridge.

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“This New Year’s Eve we are saying Sydney is back as we kick off festivities around the world and bring in the New Year with a bang,” said Clover Moore, lord mayor of the city.

Pandemic-era curbs on celebrations were lifted this year after Australia, like many countries around the world, re-opened its borders and removed social distancing restrictions.

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