Japan passed the Olympic torch to France as curtain fell on the Covid-delayed Tokyo Games Sunday, as the world now look toward Paris 2024.
Emmanuel Macron led cheering crowds in Paris, wishing viewers from around the world ‘bonjour’ from the top of the Eiffel Tower while mayor Anne Hidalgo was in Tokyo to receive the Olympic flag from organiser Thomas Bach.
Scenes in the two cities could not have been more contrasting in Tokyo, light shows and made-for-TV graphics largely replaced mass choregraphed dance routines in a spectator-less stadium due to virus restrictions, while in France thousands of people thronged into a fan zone (though did have to present a Covid certificate to get in).
Paris organisers have promised to deliver a ‘games for the people’, banking on the fact that the pandemic – which reduced Tokyo’s sporting spectacular to a shadow of what it could have been – will be well under control by then.
Japan has plenty to celebrate following the Games, with athletes bringing home a record medal haul and finishing third in the table.
For the host nation, the Olympics fell short of the global triumph and financial blockbuster it once sought – aiming to showcase the country’s recovery from the devastating 2011 tsunami and earthquake.
Instead it was forced to delay and radically alter plans in the wake of Covid, which more than doubled the initial estimate of the bill.