The Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games is a Games that will go down in history. Not just for the spectacular display of the finest athletes in the world and the winning of medals.

These Games will be forever remembered for the journey it took to get there, and the incredible sportsmanship and global community that came together in some of the most difficult circumstances, united by emotion.

The Closing Ceremony was a perfect reflection of the achievement of staging and competing in the Games themselves. It captured the heart that had been on display over the last 16 days. It had been a struggle and uncertain path to get to Tokyo on July 23 [July 21 for some sports] and getting there was a celebration in itself. There were high expectations for the Closing Ceremony and in true Tokyo 2020 fashion, it did not disappoint.

Opening with a beautiful visual reflection on the venues, action and emotion of the last 16 days, athletes from 206 nations were represented, highlighting that even in the most challenging times, hope and excitement can be found by coming together.

Following the entrance of the ceremony’s dignitaries, the raising of the host nation Japan’s flag and national anthem, the Flag Bearer of every participating nation proudly entered, forming a circle in the centre of the stadium. Athletes enjoyed the moment of entering the Tokyo Olympic Stadium for the last time, relishing in yet another historical moment of the Games.

Waving the flag for Australia, Mat Belcher, now a three-time Olympian, proudly walked into the vibrant venue, the most successful sailor in Australian Olympic history. At the Games, Belcher became a three-time Olympic medallist, winning gold in Tokyo following gold in London and silver in Rio. Belcher had now come full circle, having been selected as a teenager to take part in the ceremony at Sydney 2000.

An incredible light show followed, the many colours of the world’s flags all coming together to form a stunning wave of light in the sky, representing the Olympic spirit that lives within everyone, a tribute to the hundreds of thousands of people who weren’t able to attend the Games, before forming the Olympic Rings, a university recognised symbol of unity.

Harnessing the party vibe of a Closing Ceremony, organisers had transformed the Tokyo Olympic Stadium into a grassy green space as a representation of the urban parks that are an important part of the Tokyo metropolis. With an upbeat musical performance, the ceremony had a summer concert feel, providing everyone with an opportunity to be together and celebrate the occasion and a special Tokyo experience.

No Olympic Games would be possible without its volunteers, and in the case of Tokyo 2020 70,970 people gave their time and effort to the smooth running of the event. An incredible mix of ages, as young as teenagers and even 3 people in their 90s, six members of the volunteer community were welcomed on stage and presented with the same flower gift as the medallists as a thank you for their dedication to the delivery of Tokyo 2020.

Following a beautiful dance display of Japanese culture through colour and dance, the Olympic flag was lowered, marking the end of the Tokyo 2020 chapter of the Olympic movement. But with every ending comes a new beginning and the Games looked to its next destination: Paris 2024.

With the introduction of Paris to mark the count down until the next Olympic Games, a rooftop BMX ride of the Parisian skyline showcased the next host city, the history and landmarks Paris is famous for, welcoming the sporting world the French city, compete with a cameo from French Astronaut finishing the national anthem on the saxophone from the international space station.

A 400kg Olympic Flag flew from the Eiffel Tower, the size of a football field, as an aerobatic jet displayed flew live over the city of Paris, thousands of people coming together to thank Tokyo 2020 and celebrate the handover of the Olympic Games and ready to welcome the world to Paris 2024.

Thank you was the overarching message from both Hashimoto Seiko, President of the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee and IOC President, Thomas Bach, highlighting the unbelievable achievement of Tokyo 2020.

Despite its challenges due to the global pandemic, the Games were a testament to the hard work and dedication of every person and that every athlete should be proud, proud of be Olympians.

The Olympic flame was extinguished, the glowing cauldron closing in stunning fashion followed by an inspiring lead to Tokyo’s next big event, the 2020 Paralympic Games would next be welcomed, set to begin on 24 August 2021 and the nation of Japan are eager to capture the magic of the Games.

It was hard not to acknowledge the magic of these Olympic Games as a spectacular firework displayed filled the Tokyo sky, no doubt watched from all corners of the globe.

As Thomas Bach acknowledged, the Games of the XXXII Olympiad were a symbol of hope as the world came together for the first time since the pandemic and against all odds, our countries celebrated each other and our achievements on and off the track.

Tokyo 2020 became a symbol of what we can do as a united community when we work as one team. We can go faster, higher, stronger, together…. Towards Paris 2024.

Credit: Shannon Knaus