The Tokyo Olympics officially concluded on Sunday with the closing ceremony at the Olympic Stadium.
The Belgian flag was carried by Gregory Wathelet, a member of the jumping team that won bronze at the Nations Cup on Saturday. The closing ceremony was attended by 24 Belgian athletes and 26 Belgian officials. Bashir Abdi received his bronze medal during the closing ceremony, which he won in the marathon earlier today in Sapporo. The Belgian delegation has won seven medals in Tokyo in recent weeks.
The ceremony began with the raising of the Japanese flag and the playing of the Japanese national anthem. Then the athletes entered the stadium. It was accompanied with many happy faces and dancing. The music came from the Tokyo Saka Paradise Orchestra. The flag of Greece, the birthplace of the Games, was also raised, and the Greek national anthem was played. At the end of the ceremony, the Olympic hymn was played and the Olympic flag was lowered.
Anne Hidalgo, the mayor of Paris, later received the Olympic flag from Yuriko Koike, the governor of Tokyo. Paris will host the next Olympic Games, between July 26 and August 11, 2024. The French national anthem followed, and astronaut Thomas Pesquet played the last notes from space.
Thomas Bach, President of the International Olympic Committee, spoke briefly. Bach began with a message to the athletes: “You have astounded us.” “You inspired us with the unifying power of sport despite the many challenges posed by the pandemic. You gave the world hope. For the first time since the beginning of the pandemic, the whole world came together. These were games of hope, solidarity and peace.” He thanked the Japanese people. “You should be very proud of what you have achieved,” he said. “Thank you Tokyo, thank you Japan. It was an unprecedented game that cost an unprecedented effort.”
Traditionally, he invited young people to meet within three years to celebrate the 33rd Olympiad in Paris. Seiko Hashimoto, chair of the organizing committee, spoke of “exciting and inspiring games”. She also expressed her deep gratitude to all the medical services and the many volunteers. “Sport has the power to change our future,” he said.
The ceremony was also attended by Crown Prince Akishino, unlike his older brother Emperor Naruhito. Before the closing ceremony began, a small peaceful demonstration took place outside the stadium. About 50 activists carried banners saying “No Olympics”. They faced the assembled security forces on a large scale. Sixteen days ago, at the opening ceremony, there was also a protest against the event.
Although the Tokyo Olympics is the 32nd Olympiad, it is the 29th Summer Games that will actually go on. Berlin 1916, Tokyo 1940 and London 1944 could not happen because of world wars. These games were also at stake until the last minute. In 2020, it was postponed for a year due to the pandemic. Now they happen without an audience.
The Paralympic Games will also be held later this month. It starts on August 24 and ends on September 5. (Belgian)
“Professional reader. Award-winning gamer. Zombie buff. Social media junkie. Bacon maven. Web scholar.”