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    Sunday, September 5, 2021

    Tokyo Closes ‘Historic’ Paralympics With Colourful Ceremony

    Performers dance during the closing ceremony for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games at the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo on September 5, 2021. Philip FONG / AFP
    The Tokyo Paralympics officially came to an end on Saturday as the closing ceremony took place at the Olympic Stadium.

    While the ceremony -- which included singing, dancing, and a parade of nations -- drew to its conclusion in the Japanese capital, the Paralympic flag was formally passed on to Paris and accepted by the city's mayor, Anne Hidalgo, in anticipation of hosting the 2024 Games.

    It marks the end of nearly two weeks of Paralympic sport, during which China topped the medal table with 96 golds and 207 medals in total. Great Britain was second with 41 golds and USA third with 37.

    "Together, against the odds, we did it," said International Paralympic Committee President Andrew Parsons during his closing ceremony speech.

    "The Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games have not just been historic -- they have been fantastic.

    "In 12 magical days, athletes gave the world confidence, happiness, and hope. Athletes broke records, athletes won hearts, athletes opened minds. Importantly, athletes changed lives."

    The ceremony itself lasted about two hours and -- as has been the case for much of the Olympics and Paralympics -- took place in a near-empty stadium without spectators amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

    It celebrated youth culture with performances that included break-dancing, BMX biking, roller-skating, and choirs of children.

    Many of the performers were dressed in bright, fluorescent colors and displayed LED lights as they walked through the stadium.

    During the parade of nations -- which had fewer athletes participating compared to usual closing ceremonies as many had already returned home -- performers dressed in purple and white smocks danced, clapped, and waved athletes into the stadium.

    It took place around a model cityscape of Tokyo that had been erected inside the stadium, and parading athletes affixed silver badges onto a tower that had been laid down on the floor.

    Crown Prince Akishino, the heir to Japanese Emperor Naruhito, watched over proceedings from the stands.

    The postponement of the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics amid the pandemic means the Paris Games get underway in three years, rather than four. The Olympic opening ceremony is scheduled to take place on July 26, 2024.

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