The Olympic Games has come to an end after a stunning closing ceremony at the Tokyo Olympic Stadium.
After more than two weeks of thrilling competition full of twists and turns, the Olympic flag was ceremonially lowered with the Governor of Tokyo KOIKE Yuriko handing over to Anne Hidalgo, the Mayor of Paris, via IOC President Thomas Bach.
The next edition of the Olympic Games will be hosted by Paris in 2024.
The gift of hope
“For the first time since the pandemic began, the entire world came together,” IOC President Thomas 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.”
Turning his attention towards the athletes who had assembled in the stadium, he added: “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.
“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.
In these difficult times, you give the world the most precious of gifts: hope.
During a spectacular evening full of colour, dance and swirling rings, the Olympic flame, which has continued to burn bright ever since the opening ceremony, was extinguished and as fireworks sparkled overhead, the word ‘Arigato’ (thank you) was displayed on LED screens inside the stadium in the same font that was used to spell out ‘Sayonara’ (goodbye) at the conclusion of the Tokyo 1964 Olympic Games.
“Tonight the Olympic flame that has lit up Tokyo will quietly go out. But the hope that has been ignited here will never be extinguished,” Tokyo 2020 President HASHIMOTO Seiko said.
“These Games took place in the midst of a severe pandemic, and I would like to express my deep gratitude to all those in medical services, to everyone who supported and contributed to the Games, and to our hosts, the people of Japan.
“To all the volunteers who supported the Games: these Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 are a testament to your strength, your power and your love for sport.
“To my fellow Olympians: there are no words to describe what you have achieved in Tokyo. You have accepted what seemed unimaginable, understood what had to be done, and through hard work and perseverance overcome unbelievable challenges. This has made you true Olympians.
“One athlete's jubilant victory is another's bitter defeat. Yet in the space of an instant, winner and loser come together in the same feeling of acknowledgement and respect. This is the beauty of the Olympic Games. This is the value of the Olympic spirit. Please never forget that sight. And in the future, tell the story of what you achieved here with confidence and pride.”