TOKYO: It started with a virus and a yearlong pause. It ended with a hurricane blowing by and, nonetheless, a virus. In between: nearly all the things.
The Tokyo Olympics, christened with 2020 however held in mid-2021 after being interrupted for a 12 months by the coronavirus, glided to their conclusion in a Covid-emptied stadium on Sunday evening as an typically surreal combined bag for Japan and for the world.
A rollicking closing ceremony with the theme ‘Worlds We Share’ an optimistic however ironic notion at this human second featured all the things from stunt bikes to intricate gentle exhibits because it tried to convey a “celebratory and liberating atmosphere for athletes after a tense two weeks”.
It pivoted to a stay feed from Paris, hosts of the 2024 Summer time Video games. And with that, the strangest Olympic Video games on file closed their books for good.
Held in the midst of a resurging pandemic, rejected by many Japanese and suffering from months of administrative issues, these Video games introduced logistical and medical obstacles like no different, provided up critical conversations about psychological well being and, when it got here to sport, delivered each triumphs and some shocking shortfalls.
From the outset, expectations have been middling at finest, apocalyptic at worst. Even Thomas Bach, president of the Worldwide Olympic Committee, stated he’d frightened that these may develop into the Olympic Video games and not using a soul. “But,” he stated, “what now we have seen right here is completely completely different.
“You were faster, you went higher, you were stronger because we all stood together in solidarity,” Bach instructed gathered Olympians as he closed the Video games. “This was much more outstanding given the various challenges you needed to face due to the pandemic. In these tough occasions, you give the world essentially the most valuable of presents: hope.
“For the first time since the pandemic began,” he stated, “the entire world came together. And now I have to mark the end of this most challenging Olympic journey to Tokyo: I declare the Games of the 32nd Olympiad closed.”
It marked a low-key finish to a rare Olympics which have largely performed out in empty venues with solely athletes, staff officers and media current.
Moments after the Tokyo doused its Olympic flame a volley of multi-coloured fireworks lit up the evening sky concerning the Olympic Stadium the place athletes have been already heading for the exits.
Because the Olympic flag was handed to Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo for the 2024 Video games, stay footage confirmed cheering crowds within the French capital — in stark distinction to Tokyo — the place a number of thousand sports activities followers waving the tricolour flag thronged right into a fan zone throughout the river from the Eiffel Tower.
Pop music blared out as Tokyo medallists Teddy Riner and Clarisse Agbegnenou bounced on stage. Plans to fly a large Olympic flag from the Eiffel Tower have been deserted due to robust winds.
France guarantees a 2024 Olympics “for the people” after the pandemic-hit Tokyo occasion. In an indication that these days are removed from shut, although, public entry to the fan zone was permitted solely upon presentation of a vaccine certificates or unfavorable Covid-19 take a look at.
Japan’s fourth Olympics, held 57 years after the 1964 Video games reintroduced the nation after its World Struggle II defeat, represented a planet attempting to come back collectively at a second in historical past when illness and circumstance and politics had splintered it aside.
The closing ceremony Sunday mirrored that and, at occasions, nudged the proceedings towards a sci-fi flavour. As athletes stood within the area for the ultimate pomp, digital scoreboards at both finish of the stadium featured what organizers known as a fan video matrix, a Zoom call-like display of movies uploaded by spectators displaying themselves cheering at house.
Even the parade of athletes carrying nationwide flags — 1000’s of Olympians, masked and unmasked, clustering collectively earlier than fanning out into the world once more — was affected. Volunteers carried some flags into the stadium, presumably due to guidelines requiring athletes to depart the nation shortly after their occasions concluded.
Nonetheless, organisers seem to have prevented the Tokyo Video games from spiralling right into a Covid-19 superspreader occasion, notable provided that some 50,000 folks got here collectively amid the pandemic.
Nonetheless, the virus has lurked as an ever-present menace. Victory celebrations have been muted, with lonely laps of honour. Winners accepted their prizes from trays, placing the medals round their very own necks.
In entrance of such formidable backdrops, athletic excellence burst by, from the Video games’ first gold medal (China’s Yang Qian within the 10-meter air rifle on July 24) to their final (Serbia defeating Greece in males’s water polo on Sunday afternoon).
Celebrity gymnast Simone Biles offered essentially the most jaw-dropping second when the American abruptly pulled out of competitors over a bout of the “twisties”, a disorientating psychological block.
Biles, extensively acknowledged as the best gymnast in historical past, recovered sufficiently to say a redemptive bronze medal in her remaining occasion, the beam.
Weightlifter Laurel Hubbard of New Zealand turned the primary brazenly transgender lady to compete on the Video games and Canada’s Quinn turned the primary brazenly transgender Olympic medallist, with gold within the girls’s soccer.
In different highlights, US swimmer Caeleb Dressel assumed the mantle of Michael Phelps with 5 gold medals and Jamaica’s Elaine Thompson-Herah achieved a dash double on the monitor.
The US completed prime of the tally with 39 gold medals, yet another than rivals China at 38 and Japan at 27.
Tokyo will host the Paralympics from August 24. The Olympic circus will reconvene in simply six months when Beijing, confronted with boycott threats and a renewed coronavirus emergency, holds the Winter Video games in February.
Revealed in Daybreak, August ninth, 2021