The postponed Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics came to a close with an official closure on Sunday, nearly eight years after the Japanese capital was chosen to host both events.
The 13-day Paralympics – shortly after the Olympics – concluded with a circus-like ceremony at the National Stadium, witnessed by Crown Prince Akishino, the brother of Emperor Naruhito. The Olympics were closed almost a month ago.
The Olympics and Paralympics were an unprecedented sporting event, having been suspended for a year and marked by various notes and acclaim.
Not a single sports fan was allowed to attend during the Olympics, except for the thousands who attended the games, which were held in remote locations outside Tokyo. While only a few thousand schoolchildren are allowed into some of the venues for the Paralympic Games.
The closing ceremony, entitled “Hiruk Pikuk Harmoni”, involved disabled and non-disabled actors. The theme was described by the organizers as “a world inspired by the Paralympics, a world illuminated by diversity.”
Like the Olympics, the Paralympics are still going on even though Tokyo is under a state of emergency due to the coronavirus pandemic. Medical tests are often carried out and athletes are isolated in rooms to avoid contracting the deadly virus. Covid-19 cases in Japan continue to soar, even though nearly 50 percent of the population has been fully vaccinated.
“I believe we have made it to the end of the Games without any major problems,” said Seiko Hashimoto, President of the IOC Tokyo Committee.
The coronavirus pandemic has cost nearly $800 million in ticket sales, which are covered from the government budget. A number of local sponsors contributed by donating more than $3 billion in operating funds, which doesn’t seem to pay much in return because of the small number of fans who can come.
Hashimoto on Sunday (5/9) hinted that Sapporo might bid to host the 2030 Winter Olympics. [em/jm]