Olympics Closing Ceremony Ends With an Empty Feeling
TOKYO – One of the most unusual Olympic Games ended with a fitting closing ceremony: the usual speeches, performances, parades and tributes were held in front of tens of thousands of empty seats.
Over the past two or more weeks, the athletes have played, often at the peak of their game, and records and hearts have been broken. And on television around the world, it might not have sounded so unusual.
But on the pitch, there was an undeniable feeling of absence. An absence of jubilant supporters in the seats, an absence of parents kissing their medal-winning children, an absence of buzz that invades Olympic cities, which makes taxi drivers, hotel workers and other residents want to eagerly discuss handball or table tennis. between themselves or a visitor from another country.
Except for the masks on the participants, the closing ceremony mainly avoided the coronavirus pandemic. IOC President Thomas Bach praised the athletes for giving “hope” during dark times.
But for the most part, the familiar elements played out as if nothing had happened. Flags were raised and lowered, hymns were sung, speeches were given and the flame was extinguished with everyone playing their part as if nothing had happened, with the Olympic movement or the world.
Entertainment included the familiar – dancers and jugglers. It included the representative – drumming on a huge taiko. And there was the unexpected: a group of ska. For reasons related to the pandemic, many segments that would normally have involved dozens of costumed frolics around the stadium were shown on video.
When the Olympic cauldron was turned off, organizers quickly moved on to a highlight for the Paralympic Games, which start on August 24, and some fireworks.
As usual, there was a segment dedicated to the upcoming host of the Olympics. But this year, the video peek at Paris 2024 didn’t just offer a sense of excitement about the next Games on the horizon. He also speculated that maybe, just maybe, there will soon be Games that will be about running and jumping rather than testing and quarantining.
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