Tokyo extinguished the Olympic flame at a ceremony on Sunday, which echoed the restraint of the Olympic Games held without spectators and was changed by a global pandemic, dazzling sports and deep personal unrest.
After postponing the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games for one year, the organizers said that the event will become a symbol of the world’s victory over the epidemic. However, due to strict pandemic countermeasures and the surge of COVID-19 variants worldwide, the Olympics failed to achieve the victory and financial windfall that Japan had hoped for.
Although the ceremony was unremarkable, it gave the athletes a glimpse of daily life in Tokyo, as the Olympic Stadium became a park with grass, street performers and BMX riders.
Organizers said that the purpose of this scene is to allow tourists to “experience Tokyo”, which is a sharp reminder of the many restrictions of the Olympics.
For an unprecedented event, this is an appropriately strange ending. Japan is now burdened with a $15 billion bill, which is twice the original estimate, and there is no travel boom.
The President of the International Olympic Committee thanked the Japanese people and acknowledged the difficulty of hosting the Olympic Games during the epidemic.
“For the first time since the pandemic began, the whole world has come together,” Thomas Bach said. “No one has organized a postponed game before.”
The public anger over the pandemic and the slow introduction of vaccines have severely damaged the reputation of Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga. Opinion polls show that most Japanese are opposed to hosting the Olympics during the pandemic.
Nevertheless, the organizers seem to have prevented the Tokyo Olympics from evolving into a COVID-19 super-spreading event. It is worth noting that about 50,000 people gathered during the pandemic.
As a sign of these measures, the winner accepts the prize from the tray and hangs the medal around his neck, although social distancing regulations such as preventing hugs are basically ignored throughout the game.
Although the bubble — a series of venues and hotels where Olympic tourists are mainly restricted — seems to still exist, in other places, some things have burst. Driven by the Delta variant of the virus, the number of daily infections in Tokyo soared to more than 5,000 for the first time, potentially overwhelming hospitals.
Japan’s record number of medals also helped relieve some of the pressure on the organizers. The United States topped the list with 39 gold medals, one more than China’s 38 and Japan’s 27.
The Olympics also showcased the Olympics’ efforts to promote more diversity.
For the first time, the victory ceremony of the women’s and men’s marathon were held simultaneously. The Kenyan National Anthem has twice filled the 68,000-seat stadium for gold medal winners Peres Jepchirchir and Eliud Kipchoge. When they came, the game itself provided a lot of drama.
In a moment more reminiscent of the Cold War, Belarusian sprinter Krystsina Tsimanouskaya refused to board the plane after being sent to the airport against his will. Since then, she has been seeking refugee status in Poland.
American gymnastics superstar Simone Biles quit five of the six events, shocking the world, including abruptly abandoning the women’s team final after trying only one vault, citing concerns about her physical and mental health.
Her frank admission, coupled with the earlier comments of Japanese tennis star Naomi Osaka, made people pay great attention to the mental health of athletes.
In terms of track and field, Italy provides another shock with amazing running. Their victory included an amazing gold medal in the men’s sprint relay, bringing their total track and field gold medal to 5.
In swimming, an American team without the 23rd Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps still ended the meeting with the top medal list.
After five years of intense preparations for the athletes, some of them stretched out on the grass of the stadium. Some people seemed to relax as they watched a series of fireworks light up the sky of Tokyo.
For the first time in history, when the people of Paris welcomed the handover of the Olympic flag, the closing ceremony featured a live celebration from the next host city.
In a pre-recorded video, French astronaut Thomas Pesquet uses his saxophone to play the French national anthem on the International Space Station-in zero gravity-as a symbol of the universality of the Olympics, jet planes release blue, white and red smoke- Color French flag-above the capital.
French President Emmanuel Macron was photographed on the top of the Eiffel Tower reciting the latest updated Olympic slogan “Higher, Faster, Stronger, Together”.
At the end of the night at the Tokyo Olympic Stadium, the last ray of fireworks and the word “Arigato”—a word of thanks in Japanese—lighted up the night sky.