'Unprecedented' Tokyo 2020 showcases togetherness in pandemic-raged world

Singing, dancing and jubilation was on every corner inside the Tokyo Olympic Stadium.

Singing, dancing and jubilation was on every corner inside the Tokyo Olympic Stadium.

After 16 days of thrilling and touching sport moments, a "special" Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games was brought to a close on Sunday, displaying solidarity from the entire Olympic family against the COVID-19 pandemic.

Smiles, tears, sweat and blood were left on the track in athletes' striving for sporting excellence, while the togetherness showcased by Olympic members toward the pandemic will remain fresh and vivid for a long time.

"The Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 are the Olympic Games of hope, solidarity and peace," said International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach at the closing ceremony.

"These were unprecedented Olympic Games. It took us, the IOC and our Japanese partners and friends, an equally unprecedented effort to make them happen. We did it together," he added.

Faster, higher, stronger

Athletes sweated on their preparations despite the postponement of the Tokyo Olympic Games by one year due to the pandemic. Once stepping into action, they gave all out for Olympic glory as usual.

Olympic golds in 339 events went to 65 countries and regions, and 93 delegations medaled at these Games. The Philippines, Qatar and Bermuda all won the first gold medals in their respective Olympic Games history.

The United States topped the medal table with 39 gold, 41 silver and 33 bronze medals.

Featuring 431 athletes, China tallied 38 golds, 32 silvers and 12 bronzes, equaling its gold count at London 2012 for the best performance competing in an overseas Games.

Chinese Olympians once again dominated in weightlifting, diving and table tennis, missing out on only one gold apiece. Along with shooting, badminton and gymnastics, the six sports combined for 28 gold medals.

32-year-old Chinese team captain Ma Long became the most decorated table tennis player in Olympic history with five gold medals.

At 37, men's 81kg weightlifting gold medalist Lyu Xiaojun broke the record as the oldest Olympic champion in the sport.

"Generation Z" athletes started to come under spotlight, as 14-year-old Quan Hongchan, the youngest member of the Chinese sports delegation, collected full marks in three out of five dives en route to her triumph in the women's 10m platform event.

However, the Olympics is not all about winning medals and shattering records, but is also a process of making your dream come true.

46-year-old Uzbek gymnast Oksana Chusovitina didn't earn a spot in the vault final in her eighth Olympic appearance, but she earned thunderous applause in a standing ovation from judges, volunteers, media workers and others.

At 12 years and 204 days, Hend Zaza, from war-torn Syria, became the youngest competitor at Tokyo 2020.

"Fight for your dream, and try hard regardless of the difficulties that you are having, you will reach your goal," the Syrian table tennis hopeful told the world after losing her preliminary round match.

We are together

In a difficult time brought on by the pandemic, solidarity is called for by the entire world, and sport is no exception.

"Over the last 16 days, you amazed us with your sporting achievements. With your excellence, with your joy, with your tears, you created the magic of these Olympic Games," Bach said in his address at the closing ceremony on Sunday.

"You were faster, you went higher, you were stronger, because we all stood together - in solidarity."

Before the Tokyo Olympic Games opened, the IOC unanimously approved adding "together" into the previous Olympic motto of "faster, higher, stronger" at the 138th IOC session, marking the first revision toward the Olympic motto in over 120 years.

"Solidarity fuels our mission to make the world a better place through sport. We can only go faster, we can only aim higher, we can only become stronger by standing together - in solidarity," said Bach. "We want to put a strong focus on solidarity. That's what the word 'together' means - solidarity."

At the Tokyo Games, we have witnessed many touching moments with athletes from different countries and regions showing mutual respect.

Exchanging shirts, expressing congratulations, or sharing words of encouragement, they added "a great Olympic soul" to the Games featuring no spectators in the vast majority of the venues, according to Bach.

Countermeasures including screening tests, disinfection and social distance were necessary to ensuring a "safe and secure" Games staged during the pandemic.

Bach revealed there were 42,500 arrival tests at a positivity rate of 0.08 percent as of August 5, and 571,000 screening test at a positivity rate of 0.02 percent.

"I think it's fair to say that the Olympic community here in Tokyo has been the best tested community anywhere in the world during the last few weeks," he said.

See you in Paris 

Three years later, the Olympic Games will return to Paris, exactly one century after the French capital last played host to the Games.

At Sunday's closing ceremony, Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike handed the Olympic flag to Bach, who in turn entrusted it to the Mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo.

For the first time ever, the Olympic closing ceremony featured live and spectacular celebrations from the next host city, as the people of Paris and France embrace their role as host of the 2024 Olympics.

French President Emmanuel Macron was seen delivering the updated Olympic motto - "Faster, Higher, Stronger - Together".

"Each edition of the Games contributes, in its own way, to enriching the Olympic experience. Our ambition for Paris 2024 is to offer Games that will be open to people like never before," Tony Estanguet, the President of Paris 2024, told a press conference on Friday.

The Paris Games also have the ambition of staging the first opening ceremony in the city, thus allowing hundreds of thousands of spectators to participate in a unique experience along the River Seine.

Sayonara, Tokyo. Bonjour, Paris.

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