Accompanied by fireworks, the countdown to the start of the 13-segment show honoured ‘father of aviation’ Santos Dumont, creator of first controllable aircraft with an engine as he announced the “party to begin”.
Rains failed to dampen the famous Rio carnival spirit as this Brazilian city bid an emotional farewell to the thousands of athletes of the world in a colourful closing ceremony to bring down curtains on the 31st Olympic Games here.
International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach declared the Games closed to mark the official end of the 16-day sporting spectacle competed among more than 11,000 athletes from 205 countries in 42 disciplines.
Bach said to the huge applause of the packed gathering at the iconic Maracana Stadium on Sunday night. This was after the Olympic flag was lowered and handed over to the representative of Tokyo 2020, the next host of the Games. Bach handed over the flag to female Governor of Tokyo Yuriko Koike.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made a dramatic entry in a high-tech show, a trademark of the far eastern country, during a short but impressive performance titled ‘See You in Tokyo’.
The athletes braved harsh winter winds, accompanied by torrential showers, and enjoyed the festive atmosphere after intense competition in their respective events ended.
Torrential showers continued unabated but it did not matter to the athletes who sported translucent raincoats with several of them singing, dancing and taking selfies during the nearly three-hour-long closing ceremony.
The athletes entered the pitch with Greece coming first according to tradition. Led by Sakshi Malik, the first Indian woman wrestler to win an Olympic medal whose bronze opened the medal count of two including a silver, the country’s contingent also braved the rains as she stood tall waving the tri-colour.
The honour of bearing the Indian flag came to Sakshi as silver medalist shuttler P V Sindhu had left yesterday as about 50 Indians, including the men’s and women’s hockey teams, the wrestlers and boxer duo of Shiva Thapa and Manoj Kumar, participated in the athletes’ parade.
India ended the Games at 67th position with one silver and a bronze. United States of America topped the medals tally with 121 medals (46 Gold, 37 Silver, 38 Bronze), followed by Great Britain (27 23 17) and China (26 18 26). Host country Brazil were at 13th position with 7 Gold, 6 Silver and 6 Bronze.
A day after a frenzied Brazil celebrated its maiden gold in men’s football with a win over Germany at the same iconic venue, the closing ceremony added colour and glitz and cheered the likes of Neymar and Usain Bolt when they were displayed on giant screen during a video of Rio 2016’s defining moments.
Electronic music superstar Kygo and singer-song writer Julia Michaels took to the main stage and enlivened the end of the Athletes’ Parade with the song ‘Carry Me’. The next segment celebrated Brazilian artists, which was followed by a two-minute feature on the defining moments of Rio, followed by the Games last medal ceremony—the men’s marathon. 11 minutes 45 minutes were dedicated to Tokyo 2020 as the Japanese expressed their gratitude and put up a display of grit, determination, courage and hope to make it a greater success in four years’ time.
It was followed by the official protocol of speech giving before a carnival parade entertained the spectators. The spectacular fireworks display emanating from the Maracana lighted the Rio sky and Olympic flame was finally doused as it was time to bid goodbye and bring curtains down on the sporting spectacle.