With the sound of “What a Wonderful World” (what a wonderful world), the Paralympics flame was extinguished this Sunday. The song immortalized in the voice of Louis Armstrong reflected the desire for a better and more inclusive world for people with disabilities. When saying goodbye to the Games at the closing ceremony, Tokyo celebrated diversity and left a message of hope in a party of many colors and rhythms.
The closing ceremony of the Tokyo Paralympic Games comes to an end. Come Paris 2024!
Tokyo 2020 Paralympics Closing Ceremony — Photo: Alex Pantling/Getty Images
After 12 days of fighting in the Tokyo arenas, the Japanese waved goodbye to the Games in style. With no public presence because of the coronavirus pandemic, Paralympic athletes gathered at Tokyo Stadium for a light and music show. The song “What a Wonderful World” was overwhelming at the end of the party, performed by Japanese people Atsushi Okuno and Yuina Koshio, people with disabilities.
The best moments of the closing ceremony of the Tokyo Paralympic Games
Just like the closing of the Olympics, there was a symbolic ceremony of passing the baton. Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike handed over the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) flag to Andrew Parsons, president of the IPC, from Brazil, who handed the pavilion over to Anne Hidalgo, mayor of Paris. The countdown to the 2024 Games has begun: 1,088 days to go.
Tokyo passes the Paralympic flag to Paris, host of the 2024 Games
The party started highlighting the magic of the Paralympics. Nearly 100 people gave a light show and a lot of music, highlighting the betabox of Japanese artist RIN. Unlike other ceremonies, the athletes have followed everything inside the stadium, with the exception of the flag bearers.
Paralympic Games closing ceremony celebrates life
Lots of music and dancing at the closing ceremony of the Tokyo Paralympic Games
Tokyo Paralympics Closing Ceremony — Photo: Getty
The party had many performances, with many colors and rhythms, highlighting aspects of Japanese culture and giving prominence to people with disabilities. The mascots Miraitowa and Someity also joined the dance.
Check out the dance of the Tokyo Paralympics mascots
Only the flag bearers of the 162 delegations participated in a parade of nations much faster than the traditional one. They glued mirrors on a representation of the biggest building in Tokyo, symbolizing the construction of a city where differences shine through. The tower was erected at the end of the parade of flags.
Tower climbs with difficulty, but climbs at the closing ceremony of the Tokyo Paralympic Games
Afghanistan present at the ceremony
Afghan athletes Zakia Khudadadi and Hossain Rasouli, who were unable to attend the opening ceremony because of political tension in the country after the Taliban took power, entered the stadium as standard-bearers. They are under the protection of the International Paralympic Committee and have already been offered refuge from Australia.
Athletes from Afghanistan Participate in Closing Ceremony
Daniel Dias’ last act
The greatest Paralympic medalist in the history of Brazil, Daniel Dias performed his last act in the Paralympics. The 33-year-old swimmer said goodbye to the Games by adding three bronzes in Tokyo to the now 27-medal collection. He had the honor of being the Brazilian flag bearer at the closing party to say goodbye.
Daniel Dias enters the stadium carrying the Brazilian flag at the closing ceremony
Daniel Dias carries the Brazilian flag at the end of the Tokyo Paralympics — Photo: Takuma Matsushita/CPB
Daniel Dias also returned to the scene to be sworn in as the new elected representative of the IPC Athletes Council. In addition to the Brazilian, the Italian Martina Caironi (athletics), the Cuban Omara Durand (athletics), the Japanese Takayuki Suzuki (swimming), the Dutch Jitske Visser (basketball over wheelchair) and the Iranian Zahri Nemati (archery) were elected ).
Daniel Dias becomes member of the athletes’ council on the International Paralympic Committee
Speech by the President of the IPC
Brazilian Andrew Parsons, president of the IPC, thanked the athletes, the Japanese and everyone involved in the Games for holding the event amidst the coronavirus pandemic. He highlighted the role of Paralympic athletes in building a more inclusive world for people with disabilities, who represent 15% of the world’s population.
Andrew Parsons, President of the International Paralympic Committee, speaks at the closing ceremony of the Paralympic Games
“Together, against all odds, we made it. The Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games were not just historic, they were fantastic. In 12 magical days, athletes gave the world confidence, joy and hope. They broke records. They warmed hearts. They opened minds. Importantly, athletes have changed lives. In Japan, there is a beautiful old philosophy called Kintsugi. It means embracing the imperfections that we all have, not to hide them, but to celebrate them.
During our sports carnival, we celebrate difference, show off the best of humanity and show unity in diversity. However, our journey cannot end here. Tonight, see this not as a Closing Ceremony, but an opening to a bright and inclusive future. We are at a crucial crossroads for our planet. No mask can cover your flaws. As we rebuild better, 15% of the world’s population cannot be left behind. We must look beyond the athletes who performed so well here and see the 1.2 billion people with disabilities. They can and want to be active citizens in an inclusive world. This was the wish of Sir Ludwig Gutmann, our founder. Through WeThe15, we want to build on Gutmann’s legacy. We want to provide a global movement to publicly campaign for visibility, accessibility and opportunity. As one wise athlete said perfectly this week: ‘People with disabilities shouldn’t have to do exceptional things to be accepted.’ Sport has opened the door. Now it’s time for all of us to play our part in breaking down the barriers that separate us.
Finally, the time has come to declare the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games closed. I invite Paralympic athletes from around the world to meet again in Paris, France, in three years, where once again, you will inspire and excite the world with your sporting excellence”