‘Toughest’ Tokyo Olympics declared closed as US leads medal standings

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As the Olympic flag was handed over to Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo for the 2024 Games, live footage showed cheering crowds in the French capital – in stark contrast to Tokyo.

Tokyo Olympic Games Closing Ceremony. Photo: SF&OC.

Bach described how the IOC had considered canceling the Olympics and claiming the costs of its insurance policy, but said officials continued to organize the Games “for the athletes.”

“Our athletes moved people”

On Sunday, the culmination of the biggest sporting event since the pandemic, Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge won the men’s marathon and the United States edged China at the top of the medal table.

The United States took victories in volleyball, track cycling and basketball to top the standings with 39 gold medals, just one ahead of China.

The Olympics were plagued by weak Japanese support as they unfolded with Tokyo and other areas under a state of emergency and with infections escalating to new heights.

But Japan’s record of 27 gold medals to finish third on the table won hearts. Great Britain was fourth with 22 and the Russian Olympic Committee, the team of Russian athletes after their country’s ban on systematic doping, was fifth with 20.

“We believe that the seriousness and the total performance of our athletes moved people,” said Tsuyoshi Fukui, chef de mission for the Japanese team.

Tokyo Olympic Games Closing Ceremony. Photo: SF&OC.

A succession of big names failed to happen in Japan, where new sports like skateboarding, surfing, sport climbing and karate have brought young stars to the fore.

But marathon world record holder Kipchoge showed his class on Sunday, kicking the finals and clocking 2:08:38 to retain the title he won in 2016.

“I know there were a lot of people against holding these Olympics because of the coronavirus,” said a 47-year-old fan waving the flag on the marathon course that gave his name as Tsujita.

“But I’m glad it happened. It was a unique experience for everyone. “

The marathon, moved north to Sapporo to avoid the summer heat of Tokyo, was one of the few events to allow spectators.

Tokyo Olympic Games Closing Ceremony. Photo: SF&OC.

Trans athletes, ‘twisties’

Fears of a major epidemic among mostly vaccinated athletes and Olympic officials were unfounded and 430 cases were detected during the Games, 32 of which were in the Olympic Village.

However, the virus has emerged as a pervasive threat. The victory celebrations were muted, with solitary honor laps. But the emotions of the athletes were there.

Superstar gymnast Simone Biles provided the most breathtaking moment when the American abruptly withdrew from competition due to an episode of “twisties”, a disorienting mental block.

Biles, widely recognized as the greatest gymnast in history, recovered enough to win a redemptive bronze medal in her final event, the beam.

New Zealand weightlifter Laurel Hubbard became the first openly transgender woman to compete in the Games, and Canada’s Quinn became the first openly transgender Olympic medalist, winning gold in women’s football.

In other highlights, American swimmer Caeleb Dressel took on the role of Michael Phelps with five gold medals and Jamaican Elaine Thompson-Herah completed a double in the sprint on the track.

Among Sunday’s finals, Jason Kenny claimed the men’s keirin to become the first Briton to win seven Olympic titles.

The United States started the day with two gold medals behind China, but the women’s basketball and volleyball titles and the Omnium victory for track cyclist Jennifer Valente put them at the top of the ranking.

Tokyo Olympic Games Closing Ceremony. Photo: SF&OC.

Tokyo will host the Paralympic Games from August 24. The Olympic circus will come together again in just six months when Beijing, facing boycott threats and a new coronavirus emergency, hosts the Winter Games in February.


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