August 9, 2021

Tokyo celebrates 'power of human excellence' at closing ceremony-

categories : government

Tokyo Olympics ended on a successful note on Sunday (August 8) with a spectacular ceremony that celebrated the rich culture and heritage of host Japan and also the srong message of hope, solidarity and peace amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Games took place without spectators and athletes were barred from venturing outside the Olympic village.

Officially taking its bow, Japan passed the Olympic baton to Paris after staging a games that was delayed by Covid-19 and dismayed a skeptical public but nonetheless still delivered its share of memorable moments.

A scaled-down parade of flagbearers, missing 62 of the competing nations, started proceedings in Tokyo before an air display team painted the French tricolore across the sky in Paris, the host city for 2024, reported BBC.

Tokyo 2020 president Seiko Hashimoto, who appeared at seven Games as a speed skater and then a track cyclist, told the athletes: 'There are no words to describe what you have achieved. You have accepted what seemed unimaginable, understood what had to be done, and through hard work and perseverance overcome unbelievable challenges.'

She added: 'This has made you true Olympians.'

Japan mounted the world’s biggest sporting celebration in the face of a plague that has infected more than 200 million people and killed 4.3 million around the world, and - propelled by the delta variant - began spreading through Tokyo at a record rate just as the Games were getting underway.

The Tokyo Olympics will be etched in our memories for a long time, as this year the world saw the power of human excellence and also the power of togetherness as the organisers and athletes came together to host what looked undoable, said the International Olympic Committee (IOC) members at the closing event.

The fast-paced and tightly-scripted closing ceremony kicked off at 8 pm Tokyo time (began with one athlete from each participating country marching in with their flags.

Once assembled in a circle, the soundtrack quickly segued into a jazzy number during which the athletes still remaining in Tokyo streamed out to take part in the ceremony — their faces covered in masks.

The upbeat extravaganza at one point featured The Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra knocking out a dance version of Beethoven's 'Ode to Joy' before the beating of the traditional taiko drum signaled the start of the celebration of Japan's unique and vibrant culture.

It capped two weeks of Olympic action that was watched by millions of people around the world but seen in person by a select few because of a pandemic that will stalk the host country long after the athletes have left, reported NBC.

It was an Olympics like no other with unprecedented logistical challenges and domestic opposition, but also a stage for sporting glory mixed in with geopolitical intrigue, discussions over athletes' mental health and so much more.

It ended with the word 'arigato,' which is Japanese for 'thank you,' displayed on a giant screen as the athletes strolled off the field.

And all of it played out at the Tokyo Olympic stadium before an audience of mostly empty seats.

In the French capital crowds gathered to celebrate the handover of the summer games to Paris 2024, dancing and celebrating at the foot of the Eiffel Tower while fighter planes trailing a tricolor of blue, white and red smoke swooped through the sky.

'I declare the games of the 32nd Olympiad closed,' Thomas Bach, IOC President, said as the world bid goodbye to a games like no other. 'See you in Paris.'

The United States once again led the world with 113 medals as of Sunday morning, including 39 golds, ahead of China and the Russian Olympic Committee on both counts.

Host country Japan made the top 5 with 58 medals, nearly half of them gold, according to the latest NBC News tally.

They secured their most cherished medal of the lot early Saturday, shutting out the U.S. to win the baseball-mad country's first ever gold in the sport.

Arab athletes shine

The Arab athletes too grabbed global spotlight with their world-class performances winning five medals across four different sports - athletics, karate, modern pentathlon and beach volleyball.

The biggest star of them all was Bahrain’s Kalkidan Gezahegne, who clinched the silver medal in the

women's 10,000-metre race event with a timing of 29 minutes 56.18 seconds fininshing just behind gold medal winning Dutch woman Sifan Hassan who clocked 29:55.32.

The Saturday's race saw Gezahegne at her lightning best as she raced past Letesenbet Gidey from Ethiopia, a world record holder, to clinch the silver medal, reported Gulf Daily News.

Gezahegne, 30, increased her pace in the closing stages, thus beating out heavily-fancied, world-record holder Gidey who had to get satisfied with a bronze medal after leading the race from the seventh lap.

Saudi Arabia’s Tarek Hamdi roared into the finals of the Men’s Karate Kumite +75kg beating Japan's Ryutaro Araga 2-0 in a stunning semifinal win. However, Hamdi lost in the final after being disqualified during his bout with Sajag Ganzjadeh of Iran, who departed the mat at Nippon Budokan arena on a stretcher, reported Arab News.

The Saudi athlete was left with a silver medal despite going agonizingly close to a gold.

Also in karate, Egyptian Feryal Abdelaziz won the first Olympic karate gold medal in women’s over-61 kilogram kumite, beating Azerbaijan’s Iryna Zaretska. This was its second Olympic gold medal since 1948.

The 22-year-old Abdelaziz went ahead on a yuko with 28 seconds left in a cagey final bout. She scored again three seconds later and hung on for a 2-0 victory.

And the day got even better for Egyptian sport when Ahmed Elgendy won silver in the men’s Modern Pentathlon.

The Egyptian, 21, who also competed and won gold at the 2018 Summer Youth Olympics, pushed the eventual winner — Britain’s Joseph Choong — hard to the line with a strong finish in the fourth round of shooting.

And finally, Qatar’s men’s Beach Volleyball duo made their first appearance on the Olympic podium when they sealed a bronze medal by beating their Latvian opponents 2-0.

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