The Tokyo Paralympics ended Sunday with a dazzling closing ceremony that was a fitting way to end a record-shattering, awe-inspiring two weeks of sport.
Fireworks, video montages, and material recycled from the Olympic opening ceremony made for a big finish in Tokyo, although the athletes’ parade was the highlight and included Afghanistan’s Hossain Rasouli and Zakia Khudadadi, who managed to reach Tokyo late after fleeing the Taliban takeover of their country.
Despite a year-long delay, low public support and strict coronavirus protocols, the Games were not short of exciting competition or remarkable achievements as Paralympians from all over the world competed in Japan. The Games featured 163 delegations, one fewer than the London 2012 record, but a record 86 teams won medals, with 62 claiming at least one gold.
China, which next hosts the Winter Olympics and Paralympics in February and March next year in Beijing, finished top of the medal table, racking up 96 golds and 207 medals in total. Great Britain finished second with 41 golds and 124 medals, the US was third with 37 golds and 104 medals.
“What a journey, what sport, what a Games. Together, against the odds we did it. To the people of Japan, you made this possible,” said International Paralympic Committee (IPC) president Andrew Parsons before the Paralympic flame was extinguished.
“During our carnival of sport, we have celebrated difference, exhibited the best of humanity, and shown unity in diversity,” Parsons continued, before adding that the Games had “not just been historic, they’ve been fantastic.”
And with that, the Paralympic flag passes onto Paris, who will be hosting the next Games in 2024.
jh/ (AFP, dpa)