A low-key Closing Ceremony marked the end of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics , as organizers, athletes and delegations bid a bittersweet farewell to Games that were delayed for a year by the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) and marked by several challenges – but also delivered unforgettable sporting moments.
The last day of the Olympics saw the United States surge ahead of China to top the medal count, coming out with 39 golds to China’s 38. Team USA added 41 silvers and 33 bronzes to finish with the most overall medals at 113.
“You inspired us with the unifying power of sport,” International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach said to the athletes in his closing address.
“This is even more remarkable given the many challenges you had to face because of the pandemic. In these difficult times, you gave the world the most precious of gifts: hope.”
Like the Opening Ceremony and most events during the Games, no fans were allowed in the stadium during the Closing Ceremony. Attendance was limited to team delegations, media and Olympics VIPs.
The ceremony kicked off with fireworks and a parade of the 206 participating delegations. Javelin thrower Kara Winger, a four-time Olympian, was chosen by her teammates to be the flag bearer for the U.S. contingent.
Athletes filed into the stadium in smaller numbers than at the Opening Ceremony as Covid-19 restrictions had required most of them to depart within 48 hours after their competitions ended.
Virtually all were wearing masks, but the mood on the field grew festive as they danced, took selfies and waved to the television cameras.
However, the overall tone of the ceremony had a somber tinge, and a sense of relief rather than joy seemed to permeate the air as the Olympic flame was doused.
The Olympic flag was officially handed over by Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike to Mayor Anne Hidalgo of Paris, the host city of the next Summer Olympics in 2024. A video highlighted the sights of the French capital, while live celebrations took place in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower.
Tokyo also had a chance to take a final bow, with live performances that included traditional Japanese taiko drumming and Ainu dance, as well as music by the Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra alongside actors portraying scenes from daily life in a Tokyo park.
The final medals of the Games were given out for the marathon events, with Eliud Kipchoge of Kenya taking home the men’s gold and Peres Jepchirchir, also of Kenya, winning the women’s gold. American Molly Seidel took the women’s bronze.