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Scaled down closing ceremony marks end of 2020 Tokyo Olympics

Scaled down closing ceremony marks end of 2020 Tokyo Olympics
August 9, 2021

The Tokyo Olympics ended yesterday evening with a scaled down closing ceremony staged in front of a largely empty Japan National Stadium in the host city.

The Games' official sign-off, featuring ska bands, football freestylers, breakdancers and BMX riders, created more made-for-TV memories, culminating in athletes thanking the people of Japan by making a heart gesture with their hands.

A scaled-down parade of flagbearers, missing 62 of the competing nations, started proceedings in Tokyo before an air display team painted the French tricolore across the sky in Paris, the host city for 2024.

Overcoming the challenges of the global Coronavirus pandemic the event, postponed by 12 months, has seen its budgets blow out and considerable opposition from the Japanese public.

Commenting on the staging of the Games, Seiko Hashimoto, President of the Tokyo Olympic organising committee, advised “we have realised the games by prioritising safety, and we have now come to the closing day without seeing big problems on the whole.

“Judgment will have to wait until after all Olympic and Paralympic events are over. At this point, we cannot call it a 100% success.”

The biggest opposition to the Games centred around health issues, with fears the tens of thousands of Games participants and accompanying personnel would trigger a new wave of Covid.

During the Games, athletes had daily swabs to test for coronavirus and wore face masks when not eating, training or competing. After they had finished competing, they had 48 hours to leave the athletes' village.

Nonetheless, competitors have praised the organisers, with Rob Waddell, the New Zealand team’s Chef de Mission, thanking the Games organisers and the people of Japan.

Waddell advised “it is difficult to imagine a more challenging circumstance in which to host an Olympic Games. Tokyo was delayed a year and then took place under the strictest rules imaginable to deal with the Covid situation.

“It is a credit to the organisers that so many athletes leave Tokyo with nothing but fond thoughts. I felt so sorry for the Japanese people that the Games took place in empty stadiums when the facilities were so outstanding, but it is worth noting that these will be remembered as a successful and enjoyable Olympics, which in view of the circumstances, is a triumph.”

A decision whether to allow spectators for the upcoming Paralympics will be made in the coming days.

Hashimoto added “heading into the Paralympics, we will strive to create a perfect environment in which people will not get infected or get others infected.”.

The Olympic torch has now been handed to Paris, which is set to host the 2024 Games.

Paris has vowed to hold a thrifty Games, with a plan to repurpose current venues and spread the events across the city and its suburbs.

Images: Tokyo 2020 Closing Ceremony. Credit: Tokyo 2020.

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