Thomas Bach, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) president, paid tribute to the thousands of "remarkable" athletes who competed in the Tokyo Games amid unique challenges as the closing ceremony brought to an end an Olympics like no other.
Sixteen days after Japanese tennis star Naomi Osaka lit the Olympic torch to signal the start of the Games, the flame was doused at Sunday's closing ceremony. The ceremony included a ska band on a stage with people dancing, juggling and football players moving around an elevated stage in the centre of the stadium.
Medals for the marathon were presented — an Olympic tradition — followed by traditional Japanese dances inside the stadium and on the video board. An opera singer performed during the IOC anthem and the transition to Paris 2024, which included a flypast in front of thousands of fans in front of the Eiffel Tower, took place.
The stripped back closing ceremony was a reminder of the unique nature of the Tokyo Games. Delayed by 12 months in response to the coronavirus pandemic, Tokyo 2020 went ahead without spectators and under strict restrictions and safety measures.
Despite the many challenges, the more than 10,000 athletes who participated remained the stars of the show as global audiences witnessed countless moments of sporting greatness and inspiration.
“For the first time since the pandemic began, the entire world came together,” Bach said. “Sport returned to centre-stage. Billions of people around the globe were united by emotion, sharing moments of joy and inspiration. This gives us hope. This gives us faith in the future.
“Over the last 16 days, you amazed us with your sporting achievements. With your excellence, with your joy, with your tears, you created the magic of these Olympic Games," he added.
“You were faster, you went higher, you were stronger, because we all stood together – in solidarity and peace.
“You inspired us with this unifying power of sport. This is even more remarkable given the many challenges you had to face because of the pandemic."