Sunday marked the end of the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, eight years after the Games were first awarded to Japan.
The Paralympics concluded a 13-day run at the National Stadium in a colourful, circus-like ceremony. It was overseen by Crown Prince Akishino (brother of Emperor Naruhito). The Olympics were over a month old when they closed.
These were the Paralympics and Olympics of the future, which were postponed for one year and marked with footnotes or asterisks. Except for a few thousand fans at distant venues, no fans were permitted during the Olympics. Paralympic venues were opened to a few thousand schoolchildren.
Andrew Parsons, president and CEO of the International Paralympic Committee said that there were times when they thought these games would not be possible. “There were many nights of sleeplessness.”
“Harmonious Cacophony”, the closing ceremony, featured both disabled actors and able-bodied actors. Organisers described the theme as “a world inspired by Paralympics, where differences shine.”
The Paralympics, like the Olympics, went ahead despite Tokyo being in a state emergency because of the pandemic. Similar to the Olympics, the virus was kept at bay by frequent testing of athletes and placing them in bubbles. However, cases rose among the Japanese population, which is now nearly half fully vaccinated.
Seiko Hashimoto (president of the Tokyo organizing board) stated that “I believe we have reached the conclusion of games without any major issues.”
However, there was also some fallout. There was a lot of it.
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga announced Friday — two days before the closing — that he would not continue in office. Suga had hoped to be reelected from the Olympics. His approval rating plummeted following a slow Japanese vaccine rollout and the contentious decision to host the Games during the pandemic.
Shinzo Abe resigned last year due to health reasons. Shinzo Suga was succeeded by Suga. Abe was the one who celebrated in the front row at a Buenos Aires hotel ballroom, Sept. 7, 2013, when the then-IOC President Jacques Rogge announced Tokyo as 2020 host ahead of Madrid and Istanbul.
In a sad coincidence, Rogge died a week ago at 79 after being in poor health.
“Now that Prime Minister Suga has been forced out, taking the responsibility for his failures to combat the coronavirus,” Koichi Nakano (a Sophia University political scientist) wrote in an email to The Associated Press.