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Tokyo Olympics Come to a Close

Fireworks go off around the Olympic Stadium during the closing ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, as seen from outside the venue in Tokyo on August 8, 2021. (Photo by Kazuhiro NOGI / AFP)

By VOA News

The Tokyo Olympics have officially come to an end.

During closing ceremonies on Sunday night, IOC President Thomas Bach declared the Games closed. The next Summer Games will be held in Paris in 2024.

Just like competitions during this year’s Games, fans were not present for the closing ceremonies due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Olympic flame was extinguished as fireworks shot up into the sky.

On the final day of competition, United States athletes picked up three more gold medals, giving the Americans a 39-38 edge over China in the final gold medal count.

Overall, the United States easily outdistanced all countries in the overall medal count, including gold, silver and bronze medals, with 113 for the U.S., 88 for China and 71 for host Japan.

Earlier, for a seventh time in a row, the American women’s Olympic basketball team won the gold medal, overpowering host nation Japan by a score of 90-75.

At half-time, the U.S. was leading by 50-39 and the Americans continued to lead from then on, with Brittney Griner scoring a game high of 30 points.

Players Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi collected their fifth basketball gold medals with Sunday’s triumph. They won their first in Athens in 2004.

The U.S. women’s volleyball team also won gold Sunday. The U.S. team had been in possession of three silver medals and two bronzes, but no gold, until their 25-21, 25-20, 25-14 win over Brazil.

Also Sunday, American Jennifer Valente snatched gold, winning the women’s omnium, a multirace, cycling event. Japan's world champion Yumi Kajihara won the silver, while 38-year-old Dutch cyclist Kirsten Wild took home the bronze.

“You made me so damn proud,” U.S. President Joe Biden told a group of U.S. Olympic athletes in a virtual meeting he and first lady Jill Biden held Saturday evening.

The president invited the Olympians to come to the White House in the fall so “I can brag more on you.”

He told the group, “You remind us of what an amazing country we are.”

The anticipated star of this year’s Olympics was the gymnast Simone Biles, who pulled out during the competition, citing mental health issues. Biden told her, “You had the courage to say, 'I need some help ... I need some time.’”

He also praised Biles for her return to the Games.

“And guess what, you got back up on that damn beam,” Biden said. “Doing a flip on a four-inch beam is my idea of going to purgatory."

Saturday, the United States won the gold medal in the women’s 4X400 meter relay.

Poland captured the silver medal in the event, while Jamaica secured the bronze.
Sydney McLaughlin, Dalilah Muhammad, Athing Mu and Allyson Felix maintained U.S. dominance in the event, comfortably winning the gold with a time of 3:16.85.

The victory gave American Allyson Felix her 11th Olympic medal in track and field — more than any other woman in history and more than any American track and field Olympian. She first set the medal record Friday night by taking bronze in the women’s 400-meter event.

Felix, 35, began her career as a U.S. Olympian at the 2004 Athens Games.

Earlier Saturday, Kenya’s Peres Jepchirchir battled high heat and humidity to win the Olympic gold in the women’s marathon in a time of 2 hours, 27 minutes and 20 seconds.

Taking silver was her teammate, Kenyan Brigid Kosgei, in 2 hours, 27 minutes and 36 seconds. American Molly Seidel placed third in a time of 2 hours, 27 minutes and 46 seconds.

Olympic organizers started the women’s marathon at 6 a.m. local time, an hour earlier than planned, in an effort to avoid extreme heat and humidity.

However, at the start of the race, runners had clear skies and a temperature of 25 degrees Celsius and relative humidity of about 82%. By the end of the race, temperatures had risen to nearly 30 degrees Celsius.

Fifteen of the 88 athletes did not finish the race, which was held in Sopporo, a coastal city about 1,100 kilometers north of Tokyo.

Saturday afternoon, the U.S. men’s basketball team captured its fourth straight Olympic gold medal, and its 16th overall, defeating France, 87-82.

American Kevin Durant, who plays for the Brooklyn Nets in the NBA, was the game’s high scorer, with 29 points.

France had beaten the U.S. in the first round of the Olympics competition.

Israel won the gold medal Saturday in the individual all-around rhythmic gymnastics final, ending more than two decades of Russian dominance in the event.

Linoy Ashram narrowly defeated Russian three-time world champion Dina Averina, despite a mistake in her closing ribbon routine, to win with 107.800 points, 0.150 points ahead of Averina.

The U.S. completed it sweep of gold medals in Olympic golf Saturday when Nelly Korda sealed a one-stroke victory in women’s competition. Japan's Mone Inami won the silver medal in a playoff with New Zealand's Lydia Ko who finished with the bronze.

Xander Schauffele of the U.S. won the gold in the men’s competition last Sunday.

Some information for this article came from The Associated Press, Reuters, and Agence France-Presse.