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Photo from Tokyo 2020

2020 Tokyo Olympics

Sayonara Tokyo, Bonjour Paris: Unprecedented Olympics takes a bow

After 19 days of intense competition, the Games of the XXXII Olympiad have come to a close.

In an event marred by protests and emergencies primarily brought by the global COVID-19 pandemic, International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach officially closed the Games at the Tokyo Olympic Stadium, Sunday.

“Tonight the light of the Olympic flame will quietly go out, but the power of sports will not,” the president of the Tokyo Olympic Games Organizing Committee Seiko Hashimoto reminded everyone in her speech.

The ceremony opened with memorable scenes from the Games, including the burst of emotions from the Philippines’ very own athletes. That included women’s featherweight silver medalist Nesthy Petecio and, of course, the country’s very first Olympic gold medalist Hidilyn Diaz.

The athletes then arrived at the stadium en masse, a tradition that started in the very same place in 1964.

As the world witnessed in the opening ceremony, people from all walks of life and of all ages carried the Japanese national flag into the stadium, including double Youth Olympic Games champion in breaking, Ram. The sport of breaking will be making its debut in the next edition in Paris.

The ceremony likewise paid tribute to the hardworking volunteers of the Games, and then to the ones who have suffered from the pandemic.

For the first time in Olympic history, two victory ceremonies were staged. Kenya came out huge, with both the winners of the women’s and the men’s marathons receiving their gold medals. Peres Jepchirchir came out with the win on the women’s side; meanwhile, Eluid Kipchoge remained as the king of the marathon for the second straight time.

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The highlight of the night, however, was the turnover ceremonies to Paris — the host of the next Olympic Games in three years’ time.

As Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo accepted the Olympic flag from Bach and Governor of Tokyo Yuriko Koike, live scenes from the Trocadero showed that the people of this world-renowned capital are ready to embrace the Summer Games for the third time and back after 100 long years.

Bach addressed the athletes, saying that they were the ones who created the magic of the Games.

“You were faster, you went higher, you were stronger because you all stood together in solidarity,” the former Olympic fencer said. “You were competing fiercely with each other for Olympic glory, but at the same time, you were living peacefully together under one roof in the Olympic Village.

“This is a powerful message of solidarity and peace.”

Bach also said that this show of the unifying power of sports was even more remarkable in these times of challenges.

“In these difficult times, you gave to the world the most precious of gifts — hope. For the first time since the pandemic began the entire world came together. Sports returned to center stage. Billions of people around the world were united by emotion, sharing moments of joy and inspiration,” he said.

The long-time sports executive closed his speech in gratitude to every single stakeholder of the Games from the people of Tokyo, the TOCOG, the participating National Olympic Committees, the International Federations of the Olympic sports, the Games sponsors, and the media covering the Games.

“We did it like the athletes. We did it for the athletes. We did it together.”

The Philippines will leave the Tokyo Games with a historic haul of four medals paced by its first-ever gold from Diaz. Petecio and Carlo Paalam took two silvers for the first time for boxing, while Eumir Marcial added a bronze into the collection.

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The country will look to qualify more athletes into the Paris 2024 as it marks the 100th anniversary of our first appearance in the Games, which happened in Paris as well.

Grew to appreciate various sports from tennis to judo. True-maroon kiddo since the new millennium. Fanboy. Singer. Occasional sports writer.

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