2020 Olympic Games come to an end with closing ceremonies

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The pandemic-ravaged 2020 Olympic Games came to an end Sunday with the closing ceremonies in Tokyo, after 17 days of record-breaking wins, heartbreaking losses and a fair share of sideshow drama. 

The US finished the Games with the highest number of gold medals and overall wins after a stunning comeback in the eleventh hour that brought the number of first-place scores to 39, thanks to victories in women’s basketball, volleyball and cycling. 

The US won 113 medals overall and China narrowly came in second with 38 first place wins and 88 medals. Japan took third with 27 gold medals and 58 overall podium wins. 

The Games, originally delayed by a year, kicked off with protests from angry Tokyoites — concerned the influx of global travelers would lead to an increase in COVID-19 infections — and were only further hampered by extreme weather, empty stadiums and record low ratings.

Still, the Games went on and ended Sunday in a spectacular display of lights, music and dance in a closing ceremony that saw athletes from across the globe jubilantly flashing their medals, proudly bearing their home flags and celebrating their myriad wins. 

In a speech, the President of the International Olympic Committee Thomas Bach acknowledged “these were unprecedented Olympic Games” but even amid the challenges, they were a symbol of inspiration.

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“Over the last 16 days, you amazed us with your sporting achievements. With your excellence, with your joy, with your tears, you created the magic of these Olympic Games. You were faster, you went higher, you were stronger, because we all stood together – in solidarity,” Bach said. 

“You were competing fiercely with each other for Olympic glory. At the same time, you were living peacefully together under one roof in the Olympic Village. This is a powerful message of solidarity and peace.” 

Bach spoke of the “unifying power of sport,” which has defined the Games since its modern inception in 1896, and how the Olympics brought “the entire world… together” for the first time since the pandemic again. 

“You inspired us with this unifying power of sport. This was even more remarkable given the many challenges you had to face because of the pandemic. In these difficult times we are all living through, you give the world the most precious of gifts: hope,” Bach said. 

“Billions of people around the globe were united by emotion, sharing moments of joy and inspiration. This gives us hope. This gives us faith in the future.”

COVID-19 cases across Tokyo rose following the start of the Games and the virus also spread to athletes, who were forced to quarantine in “inhuman” conditions and kiss their Olympic dreams goodbye for another four years. 

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