When you're in the United States and the Olympics closing ceremony is taking place at 7 a.m. ET, social media might not be hopping. But there were enough people around the world watching and tweeting during the Tokyo Olympics closing ceremony on Sunday that you can live vicariously through them, even if you weren't up at the crack of dawn stateside.
The closing ceremony didn't have anything quite as memorable as the human pictogram performances from its opening counterpart, and given that the athletes were required to depart Tokyo within 48 hours of their final event, the athlete contingent wasn't nearly as large as it was to open the Games.
Nevertheless, the athletes who were still in Tokyo got to walk into Japan's National Stadium with their medals around their necks, far more relaxed than they had been at the beginning of it all. For the U.S. delegation, javelin thrower and four-time Olympian Kara Winger served as the flag bearer.
For those who didn't get to tune in but wanted to, the closing ceremony will be rebroadcast on NBC at 7:30 p.m. ET.
For everyone else who just wants the Twitter best cuts, these are for you.
Olympics Closing Ceremony Twitter Reaction
The theme of the closing ceremony, according to the International Olympic Committee, was "Worlds We Share," honoring "the idea that each of us inhabits their own world."
Joshwa Saint James harkened back to one of the funny viral moments of the Olympics, when Great Britain diver Tom Daley sat in the stands after his events to cheer on his teammates while knitting.
In the opening ceremony, viewers were captivated by the more than 1,800 drones that formed a three-dimensional, rotating globe in the sky.
The drones were back in the closing ceremony, this time forming France's flag as well as the Paris 2024 logo in the sky outside the National Stadium to pay tribute to where the Summer Games are headed next.
But what really stole the show was an augmented reality light show that featured hundreds of individual lights swirling around the stadium and eventually forming the Olympic rings.
The light show was the brainchild of Montreal-based company Moment Factory, which specializes in reality-bending audio and visual performances.
However, this spectacle was solely for the TV audience; those inside the stadium in Tokyo saw nothing.
Japan's relatively subdued tone during the opening and closing ceremonies was appropriate for the time in which these Games are being held, but they left some viewers feeling a bit cold.
But as one Twitter user pointed out, the ceremonies were actually full of cultural importance, and context about the symbolism and meaning behind the choices Tokyo made helped make the overall viewing experience more enriching:
Nick G @Xtreme_Nick
@calcalpopo The cultural context provided by a few media outlets seemed to be useful in understanding the nuances of the ceremonies. The use of Ainu culture and the obon festival in the closing ceremony, for instance. Reading about these helped make the ceremonies a more enriching experience
For instance, many of the performances that would have happened live in the stadium were performed via video to highlight and celebrate Japan's varying and rich cultures.
After a performative dance in the stadium, we saw a traditional Ainu dance in Hokkaido, in northern Japan. Then there was the Eisa dance in the Okinawa islands and video of the Awa Dance Festival in central Japan.
The closing ceremony also included a moment of remembrance that an IOC spokesperson said was meant to honor those "who lost their lives in grievous events in history and for other various reasons." A taiko drummer, rather than a moment of silence, was used to mark the moment.
Tristan Guyette (they/them) @TrisInToledo
A section of the closing ceremony dedicated to all “grievous events in history” sounds a lot like All Lives Matter... The survivors of the U.S. attack on Hiroshima deserve recognition on August 6, during the Olympic games. #OlympicSilence https://t.co/rgJWpExZ5r
Some had hoped the IOC would include a moment of silence or remembrance for the victims of the U.S. atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, as this week marked the 76th anniversary. But the IOC declined to reference specific events.
In contrast to the serious nature of Tokyo's closing ceremony, the video feed of Paris kicking off its own Olympic cycle was lively and fun. It doesn't undo the reality of the ongoing pandemic, but the people of Paris seem brimming with hope that their Olympics will truly be the reunion of the world in a safe and joyous way.
That was just never going to be the reality for Tokyo. Still, having an understated closing ceremony was a much more preferable option to having an over-the-top or tasteless one, so Tokyo organizers struck the right tone in the end.