Japan to douse flame of Olympics transformed by pandemic and drama By Reuters

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Tokyo 2020 Olympics – The Tokyo 2020 Olympics Opening Ceremony – Olympic Stadium, Tokyo, Japan – July 23, 2021. The Olympic flame is seen lit within the cauldron on the opening ceremony alongside a flag of Japan and the Olympic flag REUTERS/Kai Pf

By David Dolan, Mari Saito and Chang-Ran Kim

TOKYO (Reuters) -Japan will douse its greater than year-old Olympic flame on Sunday, closing out a Tokyo Video games that have been upended by the pandemic and reworked by the drama of politics, dazzling sport and deeply private turmoil.

For the host nation, the Olympics fell wanting the worldwide triumph and monetary blockbuster it as soon as sought. As an alternative, it’s now saddled with a $15 billion invoice, double what it initially anticipated, and no vacationer increase to offset it.

Nonetheless, organisers seem to have prevented the Video games from spiralling right into a COVID-19 superspreader occasion, an simple achievement provided that some 50,000 individuals got here collectively amid the pandemic.

Whereas the bubble activities/tale-two-cities-bubble-tokyo-outside-2021-07-29 – the set of venues and inns to which Olympic guests have been largely confined – appeared to carry, elsewhere some issues fell aside. Fuelled by the Delta variant of the virus, day by day infections spiked to greater than 5,000 for the primary time in Tokyo, threatening to overwhelm its hospitals.

Usually one of many world’s most electrical cities, Tokyo is below a state of emergency, depriving it of the manic buzz of an Olympic host or the fervent crowds of its final Olympics in 1964.

Public anger over the pandemic response and a slow-to-start vaccine roll-out have badly broken Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s standing. Public opinion polls confirmed most Japanese opposed holding the Video games through the pandemic.

Would-be spectators nonetheless got here out in power, defying authorities activities/crowds-japans-triathlon-fans-defy-spectator-ban-2021-07-31 and blistering warmth to peek in from overpasses as they tried to catch a glimpse of outside occasions such because the triathlon or new sports activities akin to skateboarding.

“We are able to already now say with confidence that now we have skilled a really profitable Olympic Video games contemplating all of the uncertainties we had the final two years,” Worldwide Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach mentioned earlier than the ceremony.

Japan’s document medal haul additionally helped take out a few of the sting for organisers.

The USA was on the high of the tally with 39 gold medals as of Sunday afternoon, with China at 38 and Japan at 27.

13 golds have been up for grabs on Sunday earlier than the closing ceremony, together with within the males’s marathon, received by Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge activities/athletics-kenyas-kipchoge-wins-mens-marathon-gold-2021-08-08, and girls’s basketball, which went to america.

Japan is because of hand over the Olympic baton to the subsequent host metropolis, Paris, at a ceremony that begins at 8:00 p.m. JST (1100 GMT).

“To the Japanese individuals, thanks, you achieved what many thought was unattainable,” Australia’s Chef de Mission Ian Chesterman informed a information convention.


After a yr’s delay and sometimes in opposition to the backdrop of cavernous, almost empty venues, the Video games themselves offered loads of excessive drama.

That culminated with the defection of Belarusian sprinter Krystsina Tsimanouskaya who, in a second extra harking back to the Chilly Struggle, refused to board a flight house after she was taken to the airport in opposition to her needs.

She has since sought refugee standing in Poland.

U.S. famous person gymnast Simone Biles activities/review-olympics-gymnastics-many-twisties-turns-biles-exits-games-champion-2021-08-04 shocked the world when she pulled out of 5 of her six occasions, together with abruptly abandoning the ladies’s staff last after making an attempt only one vault, citing issues for her psychological and bodily well being.

The 24-year-old spoke with candour about struggling to take care of the burden of expectation positioned on her and made the world conscious of the “twisties”, a kind of psychological block that forestalls gymnasts from performing their gravity-defying expertise.

Biles finally got here again to win the bronze on the steadiness beam within the last occasion of the ladies’s gymnastics programme, a second of triumph that crystallised her transformation from Olympic champion to advocate for psychological well being activities/support-biles-osaka-shows-progress-mental-health-2021-08-08.

In athletics, Italy offered a special sort of shock with their superb run. Their victories included a surprising gold within the males’s dash relay, taking their athletics gold tally to 5.

In swimming, america have been with out 23-time Olympic gold medallist Michael Phelps for the primary time for the reason that Atlanta Video games in 1996, and whereas their gold rely slipped, they nonetheless ended the meet on high of the medal desk with 30 in whole.

However they have been pushed shut by the Australian staff who achieved their greatest ever haul of 9 golds and 21 medals general, eight of their titles received by their astonishing girls’s staff.

Because the Video games wind up, Japan will now be left to rely the fee. The invoice for the Olympics and Paralympics is predicted to be 1.64 trillion yen ($15 billion), 22% greater than it was earlier than the Video games have been delayed in 2020, and twice as a lot because the 800 billion yen estimate Tokyo submitted in its host bid.

The invoice, which must be absolutely paid after the Video games finish, is more than likely to be settled by the Tokyo authorities and the central authorities.

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