The final scene of the postponed Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics took place on Sunday, nearly eight years after the Japanese capital was granted the right to host the Olympics. The Paralympic Games ended the 13-day competition and, under the supervision of Crown Prince Akashomiya, a colorful circus ceremony was held at the National Stadium. Almost a month ago, the Olympics closed.
They were unprecedented Olympic and Paralympic Games, postponed for one year and marked with footnotes and asterisks. Fans were not allowed during the Olympics, except for thousands of fans in venues located away from Tokyo. However, a few thousand school children were allowed to enter some Paralympic venues.
“There were many times when we thought these games could not happen,” Andrew Parsons, president of the International Paralympic Committee, said on Sunday. “There were many sleepless nights.”
The closing ceremony was entitled “Harmonious Cacophony” and involved both able-bodied actors and others with disabilities. The theme was described by organizers as a “world inspired by the Paralympics, one where differences shine.”
Regular Covid tests for athletes in Tokyo
Like the Olympics, the Paralympics continued in Tokyo in a state of emergency due to the pandemic. As in the Olympics, testing athletes regularly and quarantining them in bubbles prevented the spread of the virus, although the number of cases in the Japanese population has increased, and the vaccination rate in Japan is now close to 50%.
“I believe that we have reached the end of games without any major problems,” said Seiko Hashimoto, the president of the Tokyo organizing committee.
PM Suga slammed on organizing the Olympics
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga announced on Friday, two days before the closing ceremony that he would not continue in office. Although Yoshihide Suga hoped to be re-elected at the Olympics, he got the opposite result. After the slow launch of vaccines in Japan and the controversial decision to host the Olympics during the pandemic, his approval ratings plummeted.
Yoshihide Suga succeeded Shinzo Abe, who resigned for health reasons a year ago. On September 7, 2013, Abe celebrated in the front row of the banquet hall of the Hotel Buenos Aires, when the president of the International Olympic Committee, Jacques Rogge, announced that Tokyo will become the venue in 2020, ahead of Istanbul and Madrid.
In a sad coincidence, Rogge died a week ago at 79 after being in poor health.
“Now that Prime Minister Suga is forced out, taking the blame for his failure to combat the coronavirus, it would be impossible to claim that the Olympics and Paralympics were successful, a unifying moments for Japan,” Koichi Nakano, a political scientist at Sophia University, wrote in an email to The Associated Press.
The Paralympic legacy in Japan
The Paralympic Games can leave a more specific legacy in Japan than the Olympic Games, raise public awareness about the disabled, and provide barrier-free public spaces.
The number of Paralympic athletes reached a record 4,405, and the number of countries that won medals also reached a record. They also saw two athletes from Afghanistan participating in the competition, both a few days late after fleeing Kabul.
Thick cost for organizing the event
An Oxford University study found this to be the most expensive sporting event on record. Japanese officials spent $ 15.4 billion to host the Olympics and Paralympics, double the original estimate. Several government audits have shown that the real cost is double. Except for US $ 6.7 billion, the rest are public funds.
The pandemic can cost organizers nearly $ 800 million in ticket sales, and this budget gap must be filled with more government funding. Additionally, local backers contributed more than $ 3 billion to the operating budget, but the return was minimal and there were few fans.
Toshiro Muto, executive director of the organizing committee and former deputy governor of the Bank of Japan, sees the cost as an investment. He admits that it is difficult to know which are Olympic expenses and which are not.