The Tokyo 2020 Games were declared closed by IOC chief Thomas Bach on Sunday, ending the “most challenging Olympic journey” after a year’s pandemic delay and threats of cancellation.
Bach called them “unprecedented Olympic Games” as he addressed the 68,000-seat Olympic Stadium, which was bereft of fans as Japan battles to contain a record coronavirus outbreak.
“In these difficult times we are all living through, you give the world the most precious of gifts: hope,” the International Olympic Committee president told athletes at the ceremony.
“And now I have to mark the end of this most challenging Olympic journey to Tokyo: I declare the Games of the 32nd Olympiad closed,” he added.
It marked a low-key end to an extraordinary Olympics that have mostly played out in empty venues with only athletes, team officials and media present.
Athletes have lived in strict biosecure conditions with social distancing at the Olympic Village and instructions to wear masks unless eating, sleeping, training or competing.
Bach has described how the IOC considered cancelling the Olympics and claiming the costs on its insurance policy but said officials ploughed ahead with holding the Games “for the athletes”.
“Some were already speaking of ‘Ghost Games’,” he told an IOC session earlier on Sunday.
“What we have seen here is that on the contrary the athletes have brought soul to the Olympic Games