The Tokyo Olympics concluded with an upbeat ceremony in Japan’s capital. The hottest ever recorded Olympics, postponed and played out behind closed doors because of the Covid pandemic, took place without spectators and athletes were barred from venturing outside the Olympic village. The cauldron, which was lit by Naomi Osaka over two weeks ago, was finally extinguished, and the Games came to an end.
The next Olympic Games will take place in just three years in Paris. The Olympic flag was officially handed over to the mayor of Paris, and the national anthem of France was played to make the transition official. A rollicking closing ceremony with the theme “Worlds We Share” — an optimistic but ironic notion at this human moment — featured everything from stunt bikes to intricate light shows as it 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. At these Games, even the word “together” was fraught. Spectators were kept at bay. A patchwork of rules kept athletes masked and apart for much of medal ceremonies, yet saw them swapping bodily fluids in some venues. Athletes’ perseverance became a central story. Mental health claimed bandwidth as never before, and athletes revealed their stories and struggles in vulnerable, sometimes excruciating fashion.