Although not without its problems, most notably the absence of fans from venues in the Japanese capital, coronavirus has been a merciful sideshow to displays of sporting greatness.
Now everyone involved will keep their fingers firmly crossed that the Olympics in three years’ time will be able to be held in normal circumstances.
Paris had to stage its show remotely, but it was a memorable spectacle, with La Marseillaise played by musicians across Paris and beyond, including French astronaut Thomas Pesquet in the International Space Station.
French athletes who had starred in Tokyo but were now back home were among those gathered in the Trocadero to watch, although plans to use the Eiffel Tower as a flag pole for the world’s largest flag were scuppered by the weather.
Back in Tokyo, the formalities were completed as the Olympic flame went out, with Seiko Hashimoto, president of the organising committee, saying: “The hope that has been ignited here can never be extinguished.”
International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach paid tribute to the athletes, saying: “Over the last 16 days you have amazed us with your sporting achievements, your excellence, your joy, your tears.
“You created the magic of these Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. You were faster, you went higher, you were stronger, because we all stood together in solidarity.
“This is a powerful message of solidarity and peace. You inspired us with this unifying power of sport. This is even more remarkable given the many challenges you had to face. In these difficult times, you gave to the world the most precious of things – hope.
“For the first time since the pandemic began, the entire world came together. This gives us hope, this gives us faith in the future. The Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 are the Olympic Games of hope, solidarity and peace.”
After praising the hosts, who shouldered the costs and the difficulties without being able to enjoy most of the benefits, Bach will now turn his attention towards ensuring the Paris Games continue the good work.
The French capital says it will “set a new standard for inclusive, gender-balanced and youth-centred games”.
Organisers will expand the so-called ‘urban’ programme, with break-dancing – known simply as ‘breaking’ for the purposes of the Olympic programme – making its Games debut.
Much of the action will take place at the heart of the city and take in its most celebrated sights, although the 2024 surfing will take place thousands of miles away in Tahiti.
The Stade de France will host the ceremonies, Roland Garros will stage tennis and boxing, and the open-water swimming will start off in the Seine, at the foot of the Eiffel Tower.
The Paris Games, while marginally smaller than Tokyo’s, also aims to be the first to reach a 50% split between male and female athletes, edging the 2021 event which managed 48.8%.Jump to next article