Japan said goodby and took its bow to the Olympics on Sunday.

The Tokyo Olympics, christened with “2020” but held in mid-2021 after being interrupted for a year by the pandemic, glided to their conclusion in a COVID-emptied stadium Sunday night as an often surreal mixed bag for Japan and for the world.

Tokyo passed the 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.


The Olympic cauldron is seen during the closing ceremony of the Olympic Games. Photo: Leon Neal / Getty Images

The fast-paced and tightly-scripted closing ceremony kicked off at 8 p.m. Tokyo time (7 a.m. ET) and, just like the opening ceremony, was a celebration of sports and Japan. It ended with the word “arigato,” which is Japanese for “thank you,” displayed on a giant screen as the athletes strolled off the field.

A rollicking closing ceremony with the theme “Worlds We Share” featured everything from stunt bikes to intricate light shows. The ceremony tried to convey a “celebratory and liberating atmosphere” for athletes after a tense two weeks. It was set to pivot to a live feed from Paris, host of the 2024 Summer Games. And with that, the strangest Olympic Games on record began closing their books for good.

Held in the middle of a resurging pandemic, rejected by many Japanese and plagued by months of administrative problems, this Olympics presented logistical and medical obstacles like no other. It offered up serious conversations about mental health — and, when it came to sport, delivered both triumphs and a few surprising shortfalls.

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


French aerial patrols fly over the fan village in front of The Eiffel Tower during the Tokyo Olympics closing ceremony. Photo: STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN / AFP – Getty Images

“I declare the games of the 32nd Olympiad closed,” Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee, said as the world bid goodbye to a Games like no other.

“See you in Paris.”


Published by HOLR Magazine