The Tokyo Olympics officially came to a close Sunday during the Summer Games’ closing ceremony, as the Japanese hosts wrapped up the Games with musical performances and a projection show before handing off the Olympic flag to France for the Paris 2024 Games.
Unlike the opening ceremony where countries’ entire athlete delegations parade into the Olympic Stadium, the closing ceremony featured flag bearers from each nation, with javelin thrower Kara Winger representing the U.S.
The Japanese hosts presented musical performances during the closing ceremony, including both more traditional performances celebrating Japan’s heritage and a performance by the Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra of Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy.”
The closing ceremony featured fireworks and sweeping projections, including an “imaginary park” to help illustrate daily life in Japan for athletes that couldn’t explore the country due to Covid-19 restrictions, as well as an image of lights rising up to form the Olympic rings that appeared to be computer generated only for the television broadcast.
The ceremony also included the final medal ceremonies of the Games, for the men’s and women’s marathon winners.
The Olympic flag was passed to Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo before the ceremony cut over to a celebration in France, where the French Air Force’s Patrouille de France flew fighter jets around the Eiffel Tower spouting red, white and blue smoke as athletes and other Parisians gathered and French President Emmanuel Macron declared the Olympic slogan, “Higher, faster, stronger.”
After Olympic organizers spoke and officially declared the Games closed, the Olympic torch was extinguished and the ceremony ended with a sign in lights reading “Arigato,” the Japanese word for “thank you.”
“I declare the games of the 32nd Olympiad closed,” International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach said onstage at the ceremony. “See you in Paris.”
France was expected to unfurl the “biggest flag” ever to fly from the Eiffel Tower as part of the handover celebration in Paris, but CNN reports the plan was ultimately thwarted by weather issues.
The closing ceremony capped off the often controversial 2020 Olympics, which took place after a year-long delay and in spite of widespread opposition in Japan to the Games moving forward amid the Covid-19 pandemic. Ultimately, the Games took place as planned—albeit with stringent safety protocols and almost no spectators—though some athletes did have to pull out of the Games due to positive Covid-19 tests. The U.S. ultimately took home the most medals of any country, earning 113 medals including 39 golds, while the Japanese Olympic team earned 58 medals on their home turf, coming in fifth place out of 94 nations that earned medals.
What To Watch For
The Paralympic Games will run next in Tokyo from August 24 – September 5, while the Paris 2024 Olympics are scheduled for July 26 – August 11, 2024.