The Tokyo Olympics, postponed and played behind closed doors due to the Covid pandemic, ended with an optimistic ceremony in the Japanese capital.
The games took place without spectators, and athletes were forbidden to move outside the Olympic Village.
Their staging met with local opposition, and about 30 protesters clashed with police at the National Stadium before the closing ceremony.
However, other locals are also bold warnings that they are watching the events from afar.
Fans took outdoor events, such as triathlons and BMX, from overpasses and other lookouts despite temperatures reaching 35C, the warmest ever recorded at the Olympics.
The official application for the Games, featuring ska bands, football free stylists, breakdancers and BMX riders, created more TV memories, culminating in the athletes thanking the Japanese by making a heart movement with their hands.
A scaled-down parade of flag bearers, missing 62 competing countries, launched proceedings in Tokyo before an air show team painted a French tricolor across the sky in Paris, the host city of 2024.
Tokyo 2020 President Seiko Hashimoto, who appeared at seven Games as a speed skater and then a cyclist on the track, told the athletes, “There are no words to describe what you have achieved.
“You accepted what seemed unthinkable, you understood what you had to do and through hard work and perseverance you overcame incredible challenges.”
She added: “This has made you true Olympians.”
Athletes took swabs for coronavirus testing daily and wore face masks when they were not eating, training, or competing. After finishing the competition, they had 48 hours to leave the athlete’s village.
Games produce stars and the unexpected
The Games have been postponed for a year from their original date in 2020, and as the global pandemic raged, Japanese support waned, with unfavorable public opinion polls in previous months, and even Emperor Naruhito expressed concern about their setting.
The ban on spectators from most locations deprived the Japanese public of the opportunity to watch the Summer Games up close, for the first time since Tokyo in 1964 and the culmination of an eight-year wait after winning guest rights in Buenos Aires in 2013.
As always, the Games have produced a number of stars. American swimmer Caeleb Dressel won five golds in the pool. Jamaican Elaine Thompson-Herah won three more on the track. Gymnast Daiki Hashimoto won two for the home nation in gymnastics.
But equally inevitable, there were moments that no one could have expected.
Italian Gianmarco Tamberi and Qatar Mutaz Barshim decided to share the gold in the jumps instead of winning the title.
Norwegian Lotte Miller comforted Belgian rival Claire Michel after she was last in the triathlon.
Simone Biles, is scheduled to collect a pile of gold, instead emphasizing the mental health of the athlete while protecting herself by retiring from five of the six events.
The next Olympics begin in just 180 days with the opening of the Beijing Winter Games on February 4th. The next Summer Olympics are just three years away, and Paris will host in 2024, before Los Angeles in 2028 and Brisbane in 2032.
Britain coincided with London and set high sights for Paris in 2024
Despite the accumulation of blockades, the United Kingdom surpassed the 51 medals won in Beijing in 2008, equaled the 65 won in London in 2012, and finished just two less than the total number in Rio in 2016.
Cyclist on the track Jason Kenny became the first Briton to win seven gold medals for retaining his keirin title, while Laura Kenny became the most successful female cyclist in history who along with Katie Archibald took her number of gold medals to five.
There were also new stars. Twenty-one-year-old Tom Dean won a pair of golds in the pool, Bethany Shriever and Charlotte Worthington won BMX titles, and Keely Hodgkinson, 19, won an excellent silver in the 800 meters on the track. Emily Campbell won the first British women’s medal in weightlifting.
Sky Brown has become Britain’s youngest winner of the Summer Games in one of the latest bronze sports in skateboarding.
“Not only has the team made history, but it has probably made history based on the most complex, challenging and difficult environment we will surely face in my lifetime,” said Team England chef Mark England.
“It was against all odds and I think it is the greatest achievement in British Olympic history.
“This is a very, very young team and a very talented team, and I am fully convinced that in less than three years they will go to Paris and be extremely good.”