Tokyo doused its Olympic flame on Sunday in a ceremony that echoed the restraint of a Video games held with out spectators and remodeled by the worldwide pandemic, dazzling sport and deeply individual turmoil.
After suspending the Tokyo 2020 Video games for a yr, organisers mentioned the occasion would function an emblem of world conquer the pandemic. However with strict pandemic countermeasures and as Covid-19 variants have surged again all over the world, the Olympics fell wanting the triumph and monetary windfall Japan had needed.
The ceremony, though lustreless, gave athletes one thing of a glimpse of on a regular basis Tokyo life because the Olympic Stadium was remodeled right into a park with grass, buskers and BMX riders.
The scene was meant so the guests may “expertise Tokyo”, organisers mentioned, a poignant reminder of the numerous restrictions of the Video games.
It was a duly odd ending to an unprecedented occasion. Japan is now saddled with a $15 billion invoice, double what it initially anticipated, and with no vacationer growth.
The president of the Worldwide Olympic Committee thanked the Japanese folks and acknowledged the issue of staging the Video games throughout the pandemic.
“For the primary time because the pandemic started, your entire world got here collectively,” Thomas Bach mentioned. “No person has ever organised a postponed Video games earlier than.”
Public anger over the pandemic response and a slow-to-start vaccine roll-out have badly broken Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s standing. Public opinion polls confirmed most Japanese opposed holding the Video games throughout the pandemic.
Nonetheless, organisers seem to have prevented the Tokyo Video games from spiralling right into a Covid-19 superspreader occasion, notable on condition that some 50,000 folks got here collectively amid the pandemic.
In an indication of the measures, winners accepted their prizes from trays, placing the medals round their very own necks, though social-distancing protocols corresponding to stopping hugging have been largely ignored all through the Video games.
Whereas the bubble https://www.reuters.com/life-style/sports activities/tale-two-cities-bubble-tokyo-outside-2021-07-29 – the set of venues and lodges to which Olympic guests have been largely confined – appeared to carry, elsewhere some issues fell aside. Fuelled by the Delta variant of the virus, day by day infections spiked to greater than 5,000 for the primary time in Tokyo, threatening to overwhelm its hospitals.
Japan’s file medal haul https://www.reuters.com/article/olympics-2020/olympics-japan-exceeds-its-own-record-medal-haul-at-tokyo-2020-idUSL1N2PF019 additionally helped to take out a number of the sting for organisers. The US completed high of the tally https://graphics.reuters.com/OLYMPICS-2020/MEDALTALLY/rlgpdynkjvo with 39 gold medals, yet one more than rivals China at 38 and Japan at 27.
The Video games additionally showcased the Olympics’ push for extra variety.
For the primary time, a victory ceremony was held for each the ladies’s and males’s marathon occasion. The Kenyan anthem stuffed the 68,000-capacity stadium twice, for gold medallists Peres Jepchirchir and Eliud Kipchoge.
COLD WAR AND ‘TWISTIES’
And after they got here, the Video games themselves supplied loads of excessive drama.
In a second extra harking back to the Chilly Conflict, Belarusian sprinter Krystsina Tsimanouskaya refused to board a flight house after she was taken to the airport in opposition to her needs. She has since sought refugee standing in Poland.
U.S. famous person gymnast Simone Biles shocked the world when she pulled out of 5 of her six occasions, together with abruptly abandoning the ladies’s workforce ultimate after trying only one vault, citing issues for her psychological and bodily well being.
Her frank admission, mixed with earlier feedback by Japanese tennis star Naomi Osaka, introduced a pointy deal with problems with athletes’ psychological well being.
In athletics, Italy supplied a unique sort of shock with their superb run. Their wins included a surprising gold within the males’s dash relay https://www.reuters.com/life-style/sports activities/athletics-on-fire-italy-storm-astonishing-sprint-relay-gold-2021-08-06, taking their athletics gold tally to 5.
In swimming, a United States workforce with out 23-time Olympic gold medallist Michael Phelps nonetheless ended the assembly on high of the medals desk.
Capping 5 years of intense preparations for athletes, a few of them stretched out on the grass laid down within the stadium. Some appeared to calm down as they watched a volley of fireworks gentle up the Tokyo sky.
Ultimately, two huge screens stadium projected a retro show that referred to as again to the 1964 Tokyo Olympics: the phrase “ARIGATO” or “thanks”.