The Tokyo Olympics end with Closing Ceremony

By Joshua Berlinger, Ben Church, John Sinnott, Brad Lendon and Meg Wagner, CNN

Updated 10:57 a.m. ET, August 8, 2021
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9:26 a.m. ET, August 8, 2021

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.

8:58 a.m. ET, August 8, 2021

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.

8:38 a.m. ET, August 8, 2021

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.

8:31 a.m. ET, August 8, 2021

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.

8:12 a.m. ET, August 8, 2021

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.

8:03 a.m. ET, August 8, 2021

Weather foils Paris' plan to fly "biggest flag ever" from Eiffel Tower to celebrate upcoming 2024 Games

From CNN's John Sinnott

Paris will host the next Summer Olympics, but weather conditions have thwarted plans to fly the "biggest flag" ever from the Eiffel Tower to help mark the moment the French capital takes on responsibility for the Summer Games in three years as Tokyo 2020 comes to an end.

"We want to start with a world record. It's the biggest flag ever raised," Paris Games chief Tony Estanguet told reporters on Friday. "It's more or less the equivalent of a football field."

However, just before Tokyo 2020's closing ceremony got underway, Paris 2024 organizers released a statement saying "sadly the weather conditions today mean that we will not be able to proceed with our plan to raise the flag on the Eiffel Tower safely."

According to MeteoFrance's weather station it's currently 19°C, or about 66°F, with cloudy skies and winds around 20km/h, or about 12mph, in the French capital.

"Rain is nearby and Paris is expected to have scattered showers move through the area off and on through the afternoon," said MeteoFrance.

"Despite this, TV viewers around the world will be able to discover our ambition thanks to images filmed during a test conducted on 8 June," added Paris 2024 organizers in its statement.

"The celebration will still be brought to the Trocadéro by the medal-winning athletes from Tokyo and the Woodkid concert.

"For all those watching on screen, they will enjoy a spectacular experience in the heart of Paris, as it prepares to offer an extraordinary playground for the athletes, sport and the Games."

8:08 a.m. ET, August 8, 2021

Volunteers remain the heartbeat of the Olympic Games

From CNN's Emiko Jozuka

Volunteers are seen during the closing ceremony in Tokyo on August 8, 2021.
Volunteers are seen during the closing ceremony in Tokyo on August 8, 2021. Steph Chambers/Getty Images

Tokyo 2020 volunteers dressed in their blue uniforms have been a signature presence at these Games. 

In the buildup to the Games and during competitions, volunteers of all age groups have been instrumental in helping staff operate Olympic facilities and venues, and assisting journalists, officials, spectators and athletes. 

During competitions, they’ve 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. 

Amid the ban on spectators, many have even had front-row seats and an exclusive view of the Games. 

They are bringing joy yet again in this Closing Ceremony. Having enthusiastically waved the athletes into the stadium, they are keeping the energy high by dancing to the playlist of party songs blaring out around the stadium.

However, the role 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 Games.

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

7:46 a.m. ET, August 8, 2021

There's a party atmosphere in the stadium as athletes dance their way inside

Australia's athletes celebrate during the closing ceremony.
Australia's athletes celebrate during the closing ceremony. Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images

Now it's time for those athletes left in Tokyo to make their way into the stadium.

There is no particular order to this, with teams streaming in from all four corners to the beat of party songs.

After spending weeks in their own separate bubbles, there is plenty of mingling and boogying on the stage as athletes take a shared sigh of relief after an Olympic Games like no other.

Despite all the issues leading up to Tokyo 2020 — which had been delayed a full year because of the Covid-19 pandemic — the Games have been a success and the athletes are celebrating that now.

Spare a thought for commentators around the world though: the random nature of the athletes' arrival and the presence of face masks must be making this a tricky scenario to call.

7:23 a.m. ET, August 8, 2021

Flag bearers enter the stadium to kick off the Closing Ceremony

Flag bearers enter the stadium.
Flag bearers enter the stadium. Pedro Pardo/AFP/Getty Images

The flag bearer of every country is making their way into the center of the stadium, forming a circle of color.

Unlike the Opening Ceremony, all the country's come in together, which speeds up proceedings.

With the majority of athletes required to leave Tokyo 2020 within two days of the end of their competition, some countries don't have representatives left in Japan so have leaned on volunteers to fly their flag — a vexillologist's dream.