As Olympics end, Japan reflects on its lasting legacy

15 hr 6 min ago

As a Games like no other ends, Japan reflects on its lasting legacy

From CNN’s Emiko Jozuka 

Fireworks explode over Tokyo's National Stadium during the Olympics' closing ceremony on August 8, 2021.
Fireworks explode over Tokyo’s National Stadium during the Olympics’ closing ceremony on August 8, 2021. Kiichiro Sato/AP

As a child, Hiroko Fujita watched the 1964 Tokyo Games on television. Now remembered as an event that brought live Olympics sports to the world, Fujita told CNN how thrilling it had been to witness competitions on the magic box as Japan’s economy boomed. 

However, as a ticket-holder, she had looked forward to watching the Tokyo 2020 Games in person this year. 

“I felt like Tokyo 1964 was happening in a different world as a child. Now that I’m retired, I’d been looking forward to enjoying the Olympic atmosphere in Japan, but that wasn’t possible because of the pandemic,“ Fujita told CNN.

While Tokyo 1964 showcased Japan as an emerging global power on the international stage, with Tokyo 2020, Japan had hoped to revive its stagnating economy. It had also expected to paint the mega-sporting event as a symbol of the country’s recovery from the destruction and tragedy of the 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear meltdown. 

But as the pandemic continued to ravage the world and the Games were delayed by a year, Japan shifted its message to focus on how these Olympics represented the world’s ability to unite and overcome Covid-19. Throughout these Games, the people CNN spoke to in prefectures as diverse as Saitama, Fukushima and Shizuoka expressed mixed and deeply divided feelings towards the Summer Games.

Anti-Olympic protesters told CNN the Games should be canceled as it cost lives and livelihoods amid the pandemic.

But as competitions kicked off and Japan’s gold medal count racked up, the public’s mood also shifted. Hiroki Kadote told CNN he wanted the Games to be held so athletes could achieve their personal bests.

Minori Omori a shopkeeper in Tokyo’s Koto ward said he spent his days camped out in front of his TV to follow the wins and upsets.

Others defied the state of emergency order in Tokyo and gathered outside Olympic venues to catch a glimpse of competitors and snap selfies and photographs to look back on.

However, as coronavirus cases surge in and around the nation to record highs, and tens of thousands of athletes, journalists and officials prepare to pack up and leave on Monday, Japan will be left to grapple with the lasting legacy of these Summer Games for months and years to come. 

Whether Japan pulled off the impossible or was left to deal with the consequences of an Olympics like no other will remain to be seen.

15 hr 28 min ago

2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing is less than 6 months away

Tokyo 2020 may well be over but Olympic fans won’t have to wait long for another fix of action.

The 2022 Winter Olympics is set to begin in less than six months with Beijing hosting the sporting spectacle at the start of February.

And, with this year’s Games being postponed by a year because of the pandemic, the next Summer Games in Paris is just three years away.

You can also check out this year’s Paralympic Games starting Aug. 24. Those Games will also be played in Tokyo.

15 hr 32 min ago

Tokyo 2020’s best moments: In pictures

From CNN’s John Sinnott

It’s time to say sayonara.

But as one final reminder of what the Olympic Games have brought us — medals and emotions amid a global pandemic — over the last few weeks, you can check out CNN photo team’s selection of some of the images that defined Tokyo 2020 here.

Fireworks explode over Tokyo's National Stadium at the end of the Olympics' closing ceremony on August 8. The word
Fireworks explode over Tokyo’s National Stadium at the end of the Olympics’ closing ceremony on August 8. The word “arigato,” seen at left, means thank you in Japanese. Abbie Parr/Getty Images
Kenya's Eliud Kipchoge, who won the gold medal in the marathon, listens as his country's National Anthem is played during his medal ceremony on August 8. The medal ceremonies for both the men's and women's marathon took place during the closing ceremony. And that meant two playings of the Kenyan National Anthem, as Kenya's Peres Jepchirchir won gold in the women's event.
Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge, who won the gold medal in the marathon, listens as his country’s National Anthem is played during his medal ceremony on August 8. The medal ceremonies for both the men’s and women’s marathon took place during the closing ceremony. And that meant two playings of the Kenyan National Anthem, as Kenya’s Peres Jepchirchir won gold in the women’s event. Antonio Bronic/Reuters
Sky Brown competes in the park skateboarding final on August 4. Brown, who at 13 is Great Britain's youngest-ever athlete to compete in the Summer Olympics, won a bronze medal. Japan's Sakura Yosozumi won the gold, and her compatriot Kokona Hiraki won the silver. Hiraki is just 12 years old.
Sky Brown competes in the park skateboarding final on August 4. Brown, who at 13 is Great Britain’s youngest-ever athlete to compete in the Summer Olympics, won a bronze medal. Japan’s Sakura Yosozumi won the gold, and her compatriot Kokona Hiraki won the silver. Hiraki is just 12 years old. Kim Price/CSM/Zuma
US gymnast Simone Biles is congratulated by coach Cecile Canqueteau-Landi as it became evident that Biles would earn a medal on August 3. Biles now has seven Olympic medals, tying her with Shannon Miller for the most by an American gymnast.
US gymnast Simone Biles is congratulated by coach Cecile Canqueteau-Landi as it became evident that Biles would earn a medal on August 3. Biles now has seven Olympic medals, tying her with Shannon Miller for the most by an American gymnast. Robert Gauthier/The Los Angeles Time/Shutterstock
New Zealand's Laurel Hubbard competes in weightlifting on August 2. She is the first openly transgender woman to compete in the 125-year history of the Olympics.
New Zealand’s Laurel Hubbard competes in weightlifting on August 2. She is the first openly transgender woman to compete in the 125-year history of the Olympics. Seth Wenig/AP
15 hr 45 min ago

IOC president Thomas Bach declares Tokyo 2020 Games closed

International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach, center, and others on stage each form a heart with their hands during the closing ceremony.
International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach, center, and others on stage each form a heart with their hands during the closing ceremony. Dan Mullen/Pool/AP

The president of the International Olympic Committee Thomas Bach addressed the stadium, and the world, as he brought an official end to Tokyo 2020.

In his speech, Bach thanked the athletes and the Japanese people for their hard work and sacrifices in staging the most logistically challenging Olympic Games in history.

“We did it together,” he said, as those inside the stadium applauded.

All that’s left to do is extinguish the Olympic flame, which has been burning inside the stadium since the Opening Ceremony.

16 hr 23 min ago

French Air Force aerobatic team paints Paris sky red, white and blue in spectacular fly-by

From CNN’s John Sinnott

The Patrouille de France fly over celebrations at the Trocadéro in Paris.
The Patrouille de France fly over celebrations at the Trocadéro in Paris. Stephane de Sakutin/AFP/Getty Images

Meanwhile in Paris, the sky has been painted red, while and blue by the Patrouille de France — the French Air Force’s aerobatic team — over the French capital.

That definitely delivered two parts, faster and higher, of the Olympic movement’s “Faster, Higher, Stronger — Together” motto.

Meanwhile there is a celebration going on at the Trocadéro, where Paris 2024 President Tony Estanguet and several French athletes, who have returned from Tokyo, are joining in a party-like atmosphere, though it is noticeable many in the crowd are wearing masks.

Estanguet is three-time Olympic champion, three-time world champion and three-time European champion in single canoe slalom.

16 hr 51 min ago

Paris, the host of the 2024 Games, is now in possession of the Olympic flag

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo waves the Olympic flag.
Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo waves the Olympic flag. Dan Mullen/Pool/AP

The Olympic flag has been passed on to the host of the next Summer Games, Paris.

The governor or Tokyo, Yuriko Koike, handed the flag to an Olympic representative, who gave it to Anne Hidalgo, the mayor or Paris. The Summer Olympics in Paris will take place in 2024.

But don’t worry: If you’re craving more Olympic content, you just have to wait six months until the start of the 2022 Winter Games, which kick off in February in Beijing.

17 hr 11 min ago

Athletes hand out Olympic bouquets to the volunteers

From CNN’s Emiko Jozuka

The script was flipped for a moment at the Closing Ceremony, with some athletes presenting some of the Tokyo 2020 volunteers with the same bouquets of flowers given out to the medalists.

Athletes and country representatives in the stadium took a moment to honor the volunteers who have worked throughout this unprecedented Olympic Games held during a global pandemic.

During competitions, the volunteers have methodically cleared hurdles, swept sweat off basketball courts — as players ran to the other side of the court — and fetched water for umpires on baseball fields. 

However, the role of volunteers hasn’t been without its controversies.

While some 80,000 people were initially registered to volunteer at the Tokyo Games, 10,000 had quit before the Games began, with some citing inadequate coronavirus countermeasures, and as the pandemic shifted public opinion against the Olympics.

Most foreign volunteers were not allowed into Japan due to the global pandemic.

17 hr 18 min ago

Why one expert says marathon winner Eliud Kipchoge is the “greatest of all time … in ANY sport”

From CNN’s George Ramsay and John Sinnott

Marathon winner Eliud Kipchoge, from Kenya, celebrates on the podium during the closing ceremony.
Marathon winner Eliud Kipchoge, from Kenya, celebrates on the podium during the closing ceremony. Adek Berry/AFP/Getty Images

As part of the closing ceremony, Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge, who won the men’s marathon earlier on Sunday, was awarded his gold medal in a podium presentation.

With around 12 kilometers of the race remaining, Kipchoge pulled clear of the lead pack to cross the line in a time of two hours, eight minutes and 38 seconds — more than a minute clear of the Netherlands’ Abdi Nageeye in second and Belgium’s Bashir Abdi in third. 

By winning Sunday’s race, the 36-year-old Kenyan became the third man to successfully defend an Olympic marathon title.

After his victory Kipchoge disarmingly remarked that he’d “wanted to test my fitness” and gauge how he was “feeling.”

Kenya's Eliud Kipchoge crosses the finish line August 8 to win the marathon for the second Olympics in a row. Kipchoge, the world-record holder in the event, finished with a time of 2:08:38.
Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge crosses the finish line August 8 to win the marathon for the second Olympics in a row. Kipchoge, the world-record holder in the event, finished with a time of 2:08:38. Lintao Zhang/Getty Images

Others were less understated in assessing Kipchoge’s dominant performance.

“Eliud Kipchoge is the greatest of all time… in ANY sport,” performance coach and author Steve Magness wrote on Twitter. “His domination in a major sport in the modern era is unprecedented.”

You can read more on Kipchoge’s marathon win HERE.

17 hr 37 min ago

There’s a full ska band performing for the athletes

From CNN’s Meg Wagner

The Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra performs during the closing ceremony.
The Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra performs during the closing ceremony. Steph Chambers/Getty Images

The party is continuing at the Olympic Closing Ceremony with music from the Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra, a Japanese ska and jazz band.

Most of the stadium is empty thanks to coronavirus restrictions, but the band has a full audience of flag bearers and athletes on the field. There are also dancers moving through the crowd as the band plays several songs.

The Closing Ceremony marks the official end of the 2020 Tokyo Games.

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