Closing Ceremony Tokyo 2021: Highlights, Flag Bearers and More

Michelle Bruton@@michelle_nflFeatured ColumnistAugust 8, 2021

Kara Winger, of the United States of America, and Steven Da Costa, of France, carry their country's flags during the closing ceremony in the Olympic Stadium at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Sunday, Aug. 8, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan. (AP Photo/Vincent Thian)
Vincent Thian/Associated Press

After a year's postponement amid an ongoing global pandemic, the Tokyo Olympics have officially ended with the closing ceremony. Given everything that has transpired, it's a wonder the Games happened at all. 

But happen they did, with plenty of record-breaking performances and memorable moments along the way. And after a prolonged chase behind first-place China, the United States was able to finish atop the medal table with 39 gold medals and 113 overall.

On the last day of competition, the women's basketball and volleyball teams dominated over Japan and Brazil, respectively, to earn gold, while Jennifer Valente earned the United States' first-ever gold medal in women's track cycling. 

Then it was time for the closing ceremony, once again held at night in Japan and very early in the morning in the U.S. For those who didn't catch it live, it will be rebroadcast on NBC in primetime at 7:30 p.m. ET. 

Whether you want a preview of what to expect or just want to catch up on the highlights without tuning in, here's everything you need to know about the Olympics closing ceremony. 


Closing Ceremony Highlights, Flag Bearers

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We have made it to the #TokyoOlympics Closing Ceremony! Watch NOW on https://t.co/FmEtvutDRA and the NBC Sports App. https://t.co/4CuzWTEhIE

The closing ceremony is typically a less showy affair than the opening festivities at any Olympics, and that was even more true in Tokyo. Because athletes were required to leave Tokyo within 48 hours of their final event due to COVID-19 protocols, there were fewer athletes to parade into the stadium at the Games' conclusion and show off their medals. 

There were, however, still flag bearers for the nations that remained. For the U.S., javelin thrower and four-time Olympian Kara Winger served the honor. 


Kara Winger, four-time Olympian, carries the flag of the United States during the closing ceremony for the #TokyoOlympics Summer Games. https://t.co/hcirtS0AUa

Japan's flag bearer was karate gold medalist Ryo Kiyuna. A full list of flag bearers was provided by the International Olympic Committee and can be found here

Many aspects of the closing-ceremony performance that might have been performed live were instead shown on video, likely due to the pandemic. Such performances included dancers and jugglers and drumming on massive taiko drums. Japanese superstar Milet performed "Hymne a l'amour."

Host nations like to use the opening and closing ceremonies to show off their technology capabilities, and Japan took that to another level.

In the opening ceremony, viewers were mesmerized by the 1,824 drones that formed a three-dimensional globe. To close out the Games, a dazzling light display inside Japan's National Stadium formed the Olympic Rings. 

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Arigato Japan, arigato Tokyo! 🇯🇵 The typography of the LED display of 'arigato' is the same one that was used to spell out 'sayonara' in the Closing Ceremony at Tokyo 1964! 😍 #ClosingCeremony #Arigato2020 #StrongerTogether https://t.co/1PKlLyjK7h

The light display was also part of the Games' theme of "Moving Forward." Each of the colors was meant to represent nations coming together, and each individual light an athlete, or a "point of light" in the world, according to organizers

Olympic cities also love fireworks displays, and Japan didn't stop at a virtual light display. With "arigato" displayed on the screen inside the stadium, Tokyo bid farewell to its Games with a massive fireworks show. The typography was actually the same as that which spelled out "sayonara" at the 1964 Tokyo Games. 

As with many other aspects of this year's Olympics, it was somewhat eerie given the empty stadium, but Japan wanted to stick as closely to its plan to show off its culture and technology on the world stage as possible while still following COVID-19 protocols. 

Olympics @Olympics

🎆🎆🎆 Incredible fireworks to end the @Tokyo2020 #ClosingCeremony. #StrongerTogether https://t.co/NQf5NsJa3t

While it didn't quite touch the beloved human pictogram performance of the opening ceremony, Tokyo's closing ceremony was more somber and reserved as it closed out the strangest Games on record. 

And with that, International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach declared the Tokyo Games closed and the Olympic flame, which had been burning inside the stadium since the opening ceremony, was extinguished. 

Now, Paris will take the baton as it prepares to host its Summer Games in 2024. Before that happens, however, Tokyo will host the Paralympics, beginning August 24. The closing ceremony also featured a promo video for the incredible feats of athleticism that event has in store.