Tokyo Olympics Closing Ceremony: Best sights and sounds as 2020 Games end

IOC president Thomas Bach declared the 2020 Toyko Olympic Games closed. USA finished with 113 medals, while Canada finished with 24, including 7 gold medals.

On a humid Sunday night in Tokyo, the extraordinary 2020 Olympic Games came to a close.

For 17 days this summer, the world watched a Games that was at once unifying, polarizing, surreal and indelible. Held even as the COVID-19 pandemic forced Japan into a nationwide state of emergency, with sparsely populated stands and rigorous health and safety protocols, athletes overcame upended training routines to deliver moments that won't be forgotten.

These Games were remarkable for Canadian athletes. Canada won 24 medals overall, the most for the nation at a non-boycotted Summer Olympics, and beat the 22 earned in Rio de Janeiro five years ago.

And now, with one final spectacle, it's over.

The Closing Ceremony unfolded within Japan’s sprawling, 68,000-seat Olympic stadium and, in a final testament to the logistical challenges of organizing a Games amid a pandemic, only a few hundred journalists and volunteers were present as in-person spectators. Here are the best sights and sounds from the Games' finale.

The Olympic flame burns as athletes and volunteers carry flags during the closing ceremony in the Olympic Stadium at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Sunday, Aug. 8, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan. (Vincent Thian/AP)


Together, athletes arrive at the stadium

Unlike the Opening Ceremony, in which athletes march into the stadium divided by country, during the Closing Ceremony they arrive together, symbolically showing that we are all one people.

Fewer athletes were at the Closing Ceremony than in prior years. For pandemic-related reasons, athletes had to leave Japan 48 hours after their last event.

This meant Canadian icons like Penny Oleksiak, who became the country's most decorated Olympian these Games, were not in attendance.

Olympic decathlon champion Damian Warner was Canada's flag-bearer for the Closing Ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics. Warner won the country's first ever decathlon gold medal with a stellar performance across the event's 10 disciplines, finishing with a score of 9,018 points.

Light up the night

As is all-but expected at Olympic ceremonies, fireworks lit the sky. But that was far from the only captivating element in the curtain-closing show.

The Closing Ceremony incorporated several Japanese cultural touchstones, including taiko drumming, Harajuku street fashion, J-pop hits and Ainu dance -- elements that were largely missing from the Opening Ceremony.

Speeches were delivered, too.

Seiko Hashimoto, the president of the Tokyo Olympic committee, thanked all the volunteers who helped make the Olympics a success and reminded the world that Tokyo isn't done: the Paralympics are next.

A performer plays a traditional Japanese Taiko drum during the closing ceremony in the Olympic Stadium at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Sunday, Aug. 8, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan. (Vincent Thian/AP)


Fireworks explode during the closing ceremony in the Olympic Stadium at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Sunday, Aug. 8, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan. (David Goldman/AP)


Un nouveau chapitre des Jeux

A fundamental part of every Closing Ceremony is not just looking back, but looking forward, too.

These Games were no exception, setting the stage for the Paris Games which will take place three years from now.

After celebrating Japanese culture with song and dance, Paris was giving the floor for about 10 minutes, inviting the world to France in 2024.

The flame goes out

The Olympic cauldron, lit by Naomi Osaka two weeks ago, burned on the stadium floor throughout this final celebration.

And then, at last, it was doused, marking the end to Tokyo 2020 and signalling the beginning of the wait until the next Games begin -- six months from now, in Beijing for the Winter Olympics.

The Olympic flame is extinguished during the closing ceremony in the Olympic Stadium at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Sunday, Aug. 8, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan. (Aaron Favila/AP)


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