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Closing of the Paralympic Games, end of an 8-year saga

Closing of the Paralympic Games, end of an 8-year saga

The final act of the postponed Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo came on Sunday, nearly eight years after the day the Japanese capital was named the venue.

The Paralympic Games ended a 13-day competition period with a colorful, circus ceremony at the National Stadium attended by Crown Prince Akishino, brother of Emperor Naruhito. The Olympics ended almost a month ago.

These were an unprecedented Olympic and Paralympic Games, postponed for a year and marked by various incidents and events. The stands did not receive fans at the Olympics because of the coronavirus pandemic, except for a few thousand in some of the venues outside of Tokyo. A few thousand school-age children were able to attend some of the Paralympic Games competitions.

“There were many times when we thought that these Games would not take place,” said Andrew Parsons, president of the International Paralympic Committee, on Sunday. “There were many sleepless nights.”

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The closing ceremony was titled “Harmonious Cacophony” and featured the participation of both non-disabled and disabled actors. Organizers described the theme as a “world inspired by the Paralympics – one where differences shine through.”

Like the Olympics, the Paralympics took place while Tokyo was in a state of emergency due to the pandemic. As was done in the Olympic Games, athletes were frequently tested for COVID-19 and isolated in a bubble to avoid contagion, although cases increased among the Japanese population that is now vaccinated in a fifty%.

“I think we have reached the end of the Games without serious problems,” said Seiko Hashimoto, president of the organizing committee for the Tokyo Games.

However, there were details to highlight.

The Paralympic Games perhaps left a more tangible legacy in Japan than the Olympics, by raising social awareness of people with disabilities and providing accessible public spaces.

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The Paralympics involved a record number of athletes – 4,405 – and a record number of countries that won medals. Two Afghan athletes also competed, both arriving several days late after leaving Kabul.

“The Tokyo Games were a model of efficiency and friendliness,” Olympic historian David Wallechinsky said in an email to The Associated Press. “If it had not been for the difficulties related to COVID, these would have been the best organized Olympic Games or close to the best of the 19 editions – including summer and winter Games – that I have attended.”

The costs were also historical.

A study by the University of Oxford found that these were the most expensive Games on record. Japan officially spent $ 15.4 billion to host the Olympic and Paralympic Games, double the original estimate. Several government audits suggested that the true cost is roughly double that figure. Everything except $ 6.7 billion came from taxpayers.

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The pandemic may have cost organizers nearly $ 800 million in lost ticket sales, a budget deficit that will have to be recovered by more government funding. In addition, local sponsors contributed more than $ 3 billion to the operating budget, but received very little in return in the absence of fans.

For its part, the International Olympic Committee, which lobbied for the Tokyo Games and generated between $ 3 billion and $ 4 billion in broadcast rights revenue, is preparing in advance for the next three Summer Olympics; Paris in 2024, Los Angeles in 2028, and Brisbane, Australia, in 2032. AP (HN)

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