Tokyo bid a colourful farewell to the Paralympics on Sunday after 12 days of stereotype-defying, record-shattering performances despite a year-long pandemic delay.
International Paralympic Committee chief Andrew Parsons declared the Games closed on a cool night in the Olympic Stadium, saying they had “not just been historic, they’ve been fantastic”.
It was a Games like no other, postponed a year because of the pandemic and dogged by difficulties and low public support in the build-up.
But the action did not disappoint when it got underway, with a record 86 teams winning medals and 62 claiming at least one gold.
Parsons said the Games had “opened the door”, and it was “time for us all to play our part to break down the barriers”.
“During our carnival of sport, we have celebrated difference, exhibited the best of humanity and shown unity in diversity,” he said.
The closing ceremony, with fans locked out over virus fears but with roughly 2,000 athletes and officials in attendance, took “harmonious cacophony” as its theme.
It featured a riot of neon-clad breakdancers, unicycling butterflies and strutting stilt-walkers, using materials recycled from the Olympic opening ceremony for its vivid props.
Among the athletes carrying their nations’ flags were Afghanistan’s Hossain Rasouli and Zakia Khudadadi, who arrived in Tokyo with the Games already in progress after being evacuated from Taliban-controlled Kabul.
The pair, wearing red and green team tracksuits, handed the flag over to a volunteer before joining other athletes in helping to decorate a replica of Tokyo’s Skytree tower.—AFP