Tokyo bids colourful farewell to 'historic, fantastic' Paralympics
Tokyo bid a colorful farewell to the Paralympics on Sunday after 12 days of stereotype-defying, record-shattering performances despite a yearlong pandemic delay.
International Paralympic Committee chief Andrew Parsons declared the Games closed on a cool night in the National Stadium, saying they had "not just been historic, they've been fantastic."
It was a Games like no other, postponed a year because of the pandemic and dogged by difficulties and low public support in the build-up. But the action did not disappoint when it got underway, with a record 86 teams winning medals and 62 claiming at least one gold.
China finished on top of the medal table with 207, including 96 golds, followed by Britain, the United States and the Russian team.
China dominated the Paralympic Games for five consecutive times in both gold medal tally and medal total.
Parsons said the Games had "opened the door," and it was "time for us all to play our part to break down the barriers."
"During our carnival of sport, we have celebrated difference, exhibited the best of humanity and shown unity in diversity," he said.
The closing ceremony, with fans locked out over virus fears but with roughly 2,000 athletes and officials in attendance, took "harmonious cacophony" as its theme.
It featured a riot of neon-clad breakdancers, unicycling butterflies and strutting stilt-walkers, using materials recycled from the Olympic opening ceremony for its vivid props.
Among the athletes carrying their nations' flags were Afghanistan's Hossain Rasouli and Zakia Khudadadi, who arrived in Tokyo with the Games already in progress after being evacuated from Taliban-controlled Kabul.
Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike handed the Paralympic flag over to Parsons, who passed it on to Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, representing the 2024 hosts.
Parsons then announced the end of the Games, bringing the curtain down after 539 gold medals across 22 sports, contested almost entirely behind closed doors.
The Games featured 163 delegations – one fewer than the London 2012 record, despite several teams withdrawing because of pandemic difficulties. The final day's action began with the early morning marathon events, with Swiss wheelchair master Marcel Hug defending his T54 crown.
In the women's T54 marathon, Australian Madison de Rozario clung on to finish ahead of Swiss great Manuela Schaer, winning the gold by just one second.