From Tokyo with love to Paris
TOKYO,. After 12 days of sheer drama and excitement, plus the display of true grit and tenacity by an extraordinary bunch of athletes, the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics culminated with a mesmerising closing ceremony tonight.
In what was another unique closing ceremony, the host brought an air of festivity to the occasion with a series of wonderful light performances, dances and musical celebrations, despite it being held in an almost empty Olympic Stadium due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Held under the concept of ‘Harmonious Cacophony and Moving Forward’ and conveying the idea of ‘Tokyo is A City Where Differences Shine’, the show kicked off with a bang as a group of persons with disabilities took to the centre stage to showcase their musical flair before the fireworks went off above the stadium.
After the entry of the flags of the nations, a mini-Tokyo city was “built” at the centre of the stadium, featuring landmarks such as the infamous Rainbow Bridge and Tokyo Skytree, as well as a special appearance by Tokyo Paralympics official mascot Someity, accompanied by the Tokyo Olympics mascot Miraitowa, as part of the fluorescent dance performance segment.
Apart from celebrating the athletes and their achievements, the event also recognised the sacrifices of the volunteers who had worked tirelessly to ensure the Games ran smoothly and they received special gifts presented by the Paralympians, including Brazil’s most decorated swimmer Daniel de Faria Dias and popular Iranian athlete Zehra Namati.
After more exciting and colourful performances, the Governor of Tokyo Koike Yuriko then handed over the Paralympic flag to International Paralympic Committee (IPC) president Andrew Parsons, who then handed it over to the Mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo.
The audiences were then treated to a wonderful hand dance in a special video, which also featured several wheelchair-bound dancers, before the celebration continued in Paris, which will be hosting the 2024 summer Paralympics for the first time in its history.
The ceremony also promoted the ‘WeThe15′, which is the sport’s biggest-ever human rights movement to end discrimination and aims to transform the lives of the world’s 1.2 billion persons with disabilities, who represent 15 per cent of the global population.
In an inspiring speech, Andrew said the athletes’ journey should not end here as he believes that this is the avenue that has opened up a bright and inclusive future for them.
The flame was then extinguished at 10 pm, signalling the end of the Tokyo Paralympic Games.
Earlier today, national shuttler Cheah Liek Hou, who had made history by becoming the first Paralympic champion in the men’s singles SU5 (physical impairment) category after badminton made its debut here, was given the honour of carrying the Jalur Gemilang into the stadium during the flags of the nations segment.
Malaysia ended their most successful Paralympics campaign ever in 39th place, with three golds and two silvers to eclipse their Rio 2016 feat of three golds and a bronze.
Apart from Liek Hou, Malaysia’s two other gold medallists were powerlifter Bonnie Bunyau Gustin in the men’s 72-kilogramme (kg) event and Abdul Latif Romly in the men’s long jump T20 (intellectual impairment) category.
Malaysia’s two silver medals came courtesy of another powerlifter, Jong Yee Khie in the men’s 107kg and boccia player Chew Wei Lun.
China maintained their dominance in the Paralympics and were crowned overall champions once again with 96 golds, 60 silvers and 51 bronzes, while home team Japan were the 11th best with a haul of 13-15-23.
Ukrainian swimmer Maksym Krypak, who competed in the S10 category (physical impairment), winning seven medals including five golds, was named the most outstanding athlete of the Tokyo Paralympics.
Arigato Tokyo! See you in Paris 2024.