Tokyo wraps up 2020 Olympics in subdued closing ceremony

Tokyo doused its Olympic flame on Sunday in a ceremony that echoed the restraint of the video games held with out spectators and reworked by the worldwide pandemic, dazzling sport and deeply private turmoil.

After suspending the Tokyo 2020 Games for a yr, organisers mentioned the occasion would function a logo of world conquer the pandemic. But with strict pandemic countermeasures and as COVID-19 variants have surged again around the globe, the Olympics fell in need of the triumph and monetary windfall Japan had wished.

The ceremony, though lustreless, gave athletes one thing of a glimpse of on a regular basis Tokyo life because the Olympic Stadium was reworked right into a park with grass, buskers and BMX riders.

The scene was meant so the guests might “experience Tokyo”, organisers mentioned, a poignant reminder of the various restrictions of the video games.

It was a duly odd ending to an unprecedented occasion. Japan is now saddled with a $15bn invoice, double what it initially anticipated, and with no vacationer increase.

The president of the International Olympic Committee thanked the Japanese folks and acknowledged the problem of staging the video games throughout the pandemic.

“For the first time since the pandemic began, the entire world came together,” Thomas Bach mentioned. “Nobody has ever organised a postponed games before.”

Public anger over the pandemic response and a slow-to-start vaccine rollout have badly broken Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s standing. Public opinion polls confirmed most Japanese opposed holding the video games throughout the pandemic.

Still, organisers seem to have prevented the Tokyo Games from spiralling right into a COVID-19 super-spreader occasion, notable on condition that some 50,000 folks got here collectively amid the pandemic.

Fireworks are seen from exterior the stadium throughout the closing ceremony from the Shibuya Sky remark deck [Kim Kyung-Hoon/Reuters]

In an indication of the measures, winners accepted their prizes from trays, placing the medals round their very own necks, though social-distancing protocols reminiscent of stopping hugging had been largely ignored all through the video games.

While the bubble – the set of venues and accommodations to which Olympic guests had been largely confined – appeared to carry, elsewhere some issues fell aside. Fuelled by the Delta variant of the virus, day by day infections spiked to greater than 5,000 for the primary time in Tokyo, threatening to overwhelm its hospitals.

Japan’s document medal haul additionally helped to take out among the stings for organisers. The United States completed prime of the tally with 39 gold medals, yet one more than rivals China at 38 and Japan at 27.

The video games additionally showcased the Olympics’ push for extra variety.

For the primary time, a victory ceremony was held for each the ladies’s and males’s marathon occasions. The Kenyan anthem stuffed the 68,000-capacity stadium twice, for gold medallists Peres Jepchirchir and Eliud Kipchoge. And after they got here, the video games themselves supplied loads of excessive drama.

Fireworks explode as an indication that claims ‘Thank You’ is displayed on the finish of the closing ceremony [Amr Abdallah Dalsh/Reuters]

In a second extra harking back to the Cold War, Belarusian sprinter Krystsina Tsimanouskaya refused to board a flight home after she was taken to the airport in opposition to her needs. She has since sought refugee standing in Poland.

US famous person gymnast Simone Biles shocked the world when she pulled out of 5 of her six occasions, together with abruptly abandoning the ladies’s crew last after trying only one vault, citing considerations for her psychological and bodily well being.

Her frank admission, mixed with earlier feedback by Japanese tennis star Naomi Osaka, introduced a pointy give attention to problems with athletes’ psychological well being.

In athletics, Italy supplied a special form of shock with their superb run. Their wins included a surprising gold within the males’s dash relay, taking their athletics gold tally to 5.

In swimming, a US crew with out 23-time Olympic gold medallist Michael Phelps nonetheless ended the assembly on prime of the medals desk.

Capping 5 years of intense preparations for athletes, a few of them stretched out on the grass laid down within the stadium. Some appeared to chill out as they watched a volley of fireworks mild up the Tokyo sky.

For the primary time ever, the closing ceremony featured reside celebrations from the following host metropolis because the folks of Paris welcomed the handover of the Olympic flag.

In a pre-recorded video, French astronaut Thomas Pesquet carried out the French nationwide anthem on his saxophone – in zero gravity – from the International Space Station as a logo of the Olympics’ universality, and jets launched blue, white and pink smoke – the colors of the French flag – over the skies of the capital.

French President Emmanuel Macron was filmed on the highest ground of the Eiffel Tower reciting the newly up to date Olympic slogan “higher, faster, stronger, together”.

The night concluded on the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo with a last flurry of fireworks and the phrase “Arigato” – Japanese phrase for thanks – lighting up the night time sky.

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