Arigatō Japan! You have done it. Arigatō for hosting this huge sporting extravaganza - the Paralympic Games - in the middle of a pandemic. Arigatō for ensuring that the Paralympic Movement goes on when most felt it was impossible.
As the curtain falls on the 16th Paralympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on 5 September, we reflect on how Japan made the world sit back and take notice of their organisational capabilities and more importantly, their will and determination to keep their promise, made eight years ago, of delivering a mega event.
The emotive Closing Ceremony kicked off at 8pm JST and was as captivating as the Opening Ceremony – a celebration of sports, Para athletes and the people of Japan. The theme was Harmonious Cacophony: A beautiful world in which all kinds of striking differences coexist, a world where everything shines regardless. One where there are serendipitous encounters and chemistry between individuals, people and technologies, you and I.
The Games taught us the significance of 'unity and diversity', and this is conveyed in the ceremony as 'A city where differences shine'.
The Paralympic Effect
The ceremony began with the story of a boy who has been cast under the spell of the 'Paralympic Effect'. This is the power that the Paralympic Games has to light a fire in people’s hearts, to inspire action, and to move the world. The boy plays his music, inspired by the scenes and the stories of the Games. His music spreads the inspiration and we see the infamous Shibuya Crossing come to life with these sounds.
Amidst the music called 'Awakening' by DJ Uppercut, composed by 18-year-old Sasuke, a dynamic opening segment symbolised Tokyo taking up the baton of inspiration from the Paralympic Games.
The award was presented to the schools and the Paralympians who have made special contributions through the Paralympic Movement to create a more inclusive society. Two schools from the host country, one overseas school from outside of the host country and two Paralympians (one male and one female) were selected for the award.
The evening also saw the IPC Athletes’ Council’s newly elected members being introduced and the volunteers being presented with stuffed Someitys.
The performance of Harmonious Cacophony at the Olympic Stadium
The ceremony continued with the creation of DIVERCITY - a city and world in which all kinds of striking differences coexist. Here, being different does not result in conflict, but instead, gives rise to new possibilities. It is the ultimate future of diversity and harmony that Japan envisions for the world; a gift from the Paralympics that we will share with the world.
To Paris 2024
The Governor of Tokyo, Yuriko Koike passed the Paralympic flag to International Paralympic Committee President Andrew Parsons, who then passed it to the Mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo. The orange Paralympic flame turned purple — the colour of WeThe15.
The entire Stadium was alight with the glow of a sunset, which went smaller and smaller, fading into the Cauldron. The Paralympic Flame was extinguished like the setting sun.
The national flags of Japan and France fly next to each other in the Olympic Stadium
"These Games helped fulfill the dreams of many here in Tokyo and fuelled the ambitions of many more watching at home," said Parsons.
"The Paralympic Movement has a message for you: Tokyo ga daisuki desu, We love you Tokyo; Nihon ga daisuki desu, we love you Japan! Immense gratitude to all the people that delivered these Games."
And finally, the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games came to a close. The spirit of the Games will be carried now in the 2024 Games.