TOKYO: It was an Olympics that many thought should not, would not, and could not have happened.
A sporting extravaganza that seemed impossible amid the pandemic. And yet, the torch was lit, the scene was set, and the Tokyo Games delivered.
On Sunday (Aug 8), the curtain came down on a Games that defied expectations.
The Olympics was officially declared closed in a closing ceremony at the Japan National Stadium that celebrated not only the athletes but also the people behind the Games.
Athletes were celebrated in a number of different ways, with videos showcasing the various highs and lows of competition, as well as the entry of the flags bearers from various countries.
Singapore’s flag was carried by diver Jonathan Chan.
About 4,599 participants from 206 National Olympic Committees would later join in the parade of athletes, emerging from all corners of the stadium in a 30-minute section.
Residents of Tokyo were represented in the next segment, with the base of the stadium transformed into the grassy turf of a park.
Various dancers, skateboarders, breakdancers and other performers took centre stage, as athletes were treated to a bevy of acts highlighting the liveliness of the local way of life.
Volunteers of the Games were also recognised in an upbeat video featuring those who made the Games happen.
Eight volunteers representing all those who had so tirelessly contributed received flower bouquets identical to those presented at victory ceremonies.
A series of traditional dances from various parts of Japan, including Hokkaido, Okinawa Prefecture, Akita Prefecture and Gifu Prefecture then capped off proceedings before the Olympic flag was handed to Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo.
Paris, the French capital city, will host the next edition of the Games in 2024. And if the live scenes on the giant video screens were anything to go by, it promises to be an exciting one.
The segment featured crowds at Jardins Du Trocadero, waving flags and celebrating the handover. Overhead, France’s elite air display team, the Patrouille de France, roared.
Delivering a short but impactful speech, president of the Tokyo Olympic organising committee Seiko Hashimoto paid tribute to the athletes, the volunteers and the people of Japan.
“Tonight, the Olympic flame that has lit up Tokyo will quietly go out. But the hope that has been ignited here will never be extinguished,” said Ms Hashimoto.
In his speech, International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach noted that the athletes at the Games had given the world the “gift” of hope.
“For the first time since the pandemic began, the entire world came together,” said Mr Bach.
“The Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 are the Olympics Games of hope, solidarity and peace.”