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U.S. Edges China in Medals Race as Closing Ceremony Brings Games to an End

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The U.S. women’s volleyball team won its first Olympic gold medal, beating Brazil, 3-0.
Credit…Alexandra Garcia/The New York Times

TOKYO — There was a smaller menu on the last day of this most unusual Olympics, but it was an elite one.

The U.S. women’s basketball team won the gold medal over Japan, 90-75, their seventh straight Olympic title. A’ja Wilson had 19 points for the United States.

The U.S. women’s volleyball team also won gold, their first ever, beating Brazil, 3-0.

Eliud Kipchoge of Kenya defended his Olympic marathon title, becoming only the third man to win gold medals in back-to-back Games.

Jennifer Valente won the United States’ only track cycling gold of the Games, taking the women’s omnium, a four-event bicycle decathlon of sorts.

Bulgaria won the gold in group rhythmic gymnastics, France in women’s handball and Serbia in men’s water polo.

There was great competition at these Games. How could there not be? And the sport didn’t look half bad on TV. But there was also an emptiness, physically in the stands and in the loss of a once-in-a-lifetime celebration for the city and people of Tokyo. All of this will be the legacy of the 2020 Olympiad.

Sayonara from Tokyo. See you in Beijing and Paris!

The U.S. women’s team won the gold medal in the 4x400-meter relay on Saturday night.
Credit…Chang W. Lee/The New York Times

The United States has won the most medals at the Tokyo Olympics and will be the only country to take home more than 100. But on the last day of competition, the race for the most gold medals was a tight contest between the United States and China.

That race is particularly important to China, which has tried to harness its youth for Olympic glory ever since rejoining the summer Olympic movement in 1984.

With only a few events left, the United States clinched the race on Sunday afternoon by reaching 39 golds.

As the day began in Tokyo, China had 38 gold medals to 36 for the United States. But American teams then won gold medals in women’s basketball and women’s volleyball, and Jennifer Valente won the women’s omnium in track cycling, putting the United States into the lead by one.

Latest

Medal

Count
 ›

Total
USA flag

United States

39 41 33 113
CHN flag

China

38 32 18 88
ROC flag

Russian Olympic Committee

20 28 23 71
GBR flag

Britain

22 21 22 65
JPN flag

Japan

27 14 17 58

China had two opportunities for golds, but finished fourth in the rhythmic gymnastics group all-around final and with a silver in women’s middleweight boxing.

Richard Torrez Jr. of the United States lost a super heavyweight final on Sunday afternoon, but the Americans had already clinched the most golds. Torrez earned a silver medal, part of a four-medal effort that was the Americans’ best in boxing since the 2000 Sydney Games.

Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

To establish itself as a sports superpower, China’s government years ago developed an official “gold medal strategy” that depended on thousands of full-time sports schools, with coaches scouting young talent in villages and cities alike. In addition to traditional strongholds like table tennis and badminton, Chinese officials deliberately targeted sports that were underfunded in the West, such as women’s sports, or less high-profile pursuits with many medals on offer from multiple weight divisions or competition categories.

It mattered little whether there was deep public interest in these sports in China. Sports schools started programs from scratch in women’s weight lifting, taekwondo, canoeing and more.

On home turf in 2008, China met its ambitions by topping the gold medal count for the first time. But the country slipped in London in 2012 and Rio de Janeiro in 2016, amid public reservations about whether the sports system was worth it. Few children make it to the elite level and even those that do are not guaranteed good jobs after they retire.

Even as government officials stressed that they wanted to encourage mass sports and overall physical fitness, the drive for gold continued.

It paid off in Tokyo. China scored golds in the sports it has dominated in the past, like weight lifting, diving, gymnastics and table tennis. But it also claimed victories in canoeing, cycling, rowing and athletics, and underscored its growing strength in swimming. The majority of China’s gold medals came from women or from mixed team events.

Karsten Warholm of Norway broke the world record and won the gold medal in the 400-meter hurdles.
Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

TOKYO — World records are bound to fall at every Olympics, when the world’s greatest athletes compete on one stage and are pushed further and faster by advances in technology. Yet many also wondered whether swampy conditions in and around Tokyo — and the impact of a year’s delay — would hinder the expected monumental performances.

But athletes persevered and world records were shattered in a smattering of sports.

On the track, two Americans bested their own records in the 400-meter hurdles, looking up to the scoreboard in awe. Sydney McLaughlin set a new world record, beating the one she set earlier this year. Dalilah Muhammad, the defending Olympic champion, ran the second-fastest time in history.

Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

The men’s 400-meter hurdles was a similar story: Both Karsten Warholm of Norway and Rai Benjamin of the United States broke the world record. Warholm won the race, obliterating his own world record, which he also set this year.

Yulimar Rojas of Venezuela smashed a triple jump world record that had gone uncontested for more than 26 years. In doing so, she became the first woman from Venezuela to win an Olympic gold medal.

Caeleb Dressel set two world records in the swimming pool: one in the 4×100-meter relay as part of the U.S. team and another in the individual 100-meter butterfly race. And the weight lifter Lasha Talakhadze of Georgia set three world records, in both lifts and his total.

World records in track cycling were broken multiple times during these Olympics. In men’s team pursuit, a world record fell during the first round, and again during the finals. In the women’s team pursuit, the world record was broken three times in the same day, first in qualifying rounds, and twice in the first round of competition.

China is departing these Olympics with 88 medals and five new world records across swimming, cycling, shooting and weight lifting events.

Here’s a look at all of the world records set during the Tokyo Games.

Event

Competitor

New

Cycling – Track

Men’s

Team

Pursuit

ITA flag

Italy

3:42.032

Cycling – Track

Women’s

Team

Pursuit

GER flag

Germany

4:04.242

Cycling – Track

Women’s

Team

Sprint

CHN flag

China

31.804s

Shooting

Men’s

50m

Rifle

3

Positions

Final

CHN flag

China

466.0pts

Shooting

Women’s

Trap

Qualification

SVK flag

Slovakia

125pts

Shooting

Mixed

Team

10m

Air

Rifle

Qualification

CHN flag

China

633.2pts

Sport Climbing

Women’s

Speed

POL flag

Poland

6.84s

Swimming

Men’s

4×100m

Medley

Relay

USA flag

United States

3:26.78

Swimming

Mixed

4×100m

Medley

Relay

GBR flag

Britain

3:37.58

Swimming

Men’s

100m

Butterfly

USA flag

United States

49.45s

Swimming

Women’s

200m

Breaststroke

RSA flag

South Africa

2:18.95

Swimming

Women’s

4×200m

Freestyle

Relay

CHN flag

China

7:40.33

Swimming

Women’s

4×100m

Freestyle

Relay

AUS flag

Australia

3:29.69

Track and Field

Women’s

400m

Hurdles

USA flag

United States

51.46s

Track and Field

Men’s

400m

Hurdles

NOR flag

Norway

45.94s

Track and Field

Women’s

Triple

Jump

VEN flag

Venezuela

15.67m

Weightlifting

Men’s

over

240

lbs.

(Total)

GEO flag

Georgia

488kg

Weightlifting

Men’s

over

240

lbs.

(Clean

and

jerk)

GEO flag

Georgia

265kg

Weightlifting

Men’s

over

240

lbs.

(Snatch)

GEO flag

Georgia

223kg

Weightlifting

Men’s

161

lbs.

(Total)

CHN flag

China

364kg
The Tokyo Games, which ended on Sunday, offered viewers a respite from the frustration and tragedy of the past 18 months.
Credit…Chang W. Lee/The New York Times

TOKYO — As the athletes finished marching into the stadium for the closing ceremony of the 32nd Summer Olympics on Sunday night, the announcer asked for a big round of applause. But there simply weren’t enough people in the stands to make much noise. And the flashiest component of the ceremony, a formation of the five Olympic rings by tiny points of light, was invisible live in the stadium. The magic of its special effects played only on large screens and to television audiences.

And so one of the strangest Olympics in recent memory ended much as they began, with reduced cohorts of athletes waving to cameras and volunteer dancers rather than spectators, and rows of empty seats serving as reminders of a pandemic that could not be brought to heel by messaging about the healing power of the Games.

Yet perhaps more than any recent Olympics, the tournament was an athletic reality show, inviting viewers to seek respite from the frustration and tragedy of the past 18 months. The drama of competition and bouts of rousing sportsmanship offered diversion from the daily counts of coronavirus cases — the ones within the Olympic bubble and the vastly larger numbers outside of it.

Fans were riveted by Simone Biles and her decision to withdraw from most of her gymnastics events while speaking candidly about mental health issues. New sports like skateboarding and surfing made their Olympic debuts.

There were upsets: The U.S. women’s soccer team fell to Canada in a semifinal; Jun Mizutani and Mima Ito won Japan’s first gold medal in table tennis over the Chinese world champions. Naomi Osaka, after lighting the Olympic cauldron for Japan, was eliminated in the third round of her tennis tournament, denying the host country a potential gold medal moment it had dearly hoped for.

There were history-making triumphs: Allyson Felix surpassed Carl Lewis as the most decorated American Olympian in track and field, and Eliud Kipchoge of Kenya defended his gold medal in the men’s marathon.

Although organizers argued that the Japanese public and international audiences had embraced the Olympics after months of controversy, the numbers from NBCUniversal in the United States, the largest broadcaster at the Games, showed steep drops from the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in 2016. In Japan, a smaller proportion of viewers watched the Games than when Tokyo last hosted the event, in 1964.

Given numerous scandals involving Tokyo 2020 officials and concerns before the Games that they might result in a superspreader event, Tokyo organizers could claim success simply because the worst-case scenario did not occur. Experts, however, debated whether the Olympics normalized behaviors that helped spur a new wave of infections across the city.

Many of the performances in the closing ceremony elicited a lighthearted joy that the more somber opening ceremony did not. (NBC will air the full event on Sunday night.) In one segment, actors and dancers dressed in street fashion frolicked around the center of the stadium, meant to evoke a park, with capoeira dancers, stunt bikers, jugglers and double Dutch jumpers, a poignant demonstration of a side of Tokyo that most Olympic visitors never got to see.

In his concluding remarks, Thomas Bach, the president of the International Olympic Committee, thanked the people of Japan and noted that no organizing committee had ever had to put on a postponed Games before. “We did it — together!” he said, to lukewarm applause.

Even as Tokyo organizers officially passed the Olympic flag to Paris for the next Summer Games, the real specter lurking behind the feel-good moments was the Winter Olympics in Beijing, which are scheduled to open in February.

Officials, including Bach, avoided answering questions about how the committee planned to address the fact that the Games are to be held in a country that has been condemned for committing genocide and crimes against humanity for its repression of Uyghurs and other predominantly Muslim ethnic minorities. At the same time, the pandemic is still likely to be a factor. China, too, is battling new outbreaks of the Delta variant in several provinces and has already imposed de facto lockdowns.

Molly Seidel of the United States received her bronze medal for the women’s marathon at the closing ceremony.
Credit…Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times

On Saturday morning in Sapporo, about 500 miles north of Tokyo, Molly Seidel of the United States ran her third marathon.

It just so happened to be the Olympic marathon. And she just so happened to win the bronze medal, only the third time an American woman has reached the podium in the Olympic race.

By Sunday night in Tokyo, she was being honored on an international stage as the medals were awarded at the Olympics’ closing ceremony.

It has long been tradition to award medals at the closing ceremony to the top finishers of the men’s marathon, one of the last events of any Summer Olympics. But the medalists in the women’s marathon were also honored at the ceremony this year.

The race conditions Seidel, 27, endured were brutal. In 2019, the event was moved to Sapporo from Tokyo in an effort to escape the heat. And a few hours before it began, the race was moved once again to an earlier start time of 6 a.m. because of a record heat wave. Runners faced temperatures of 78 degrees Fahrenheit with 82 percent humidity at the start line.

Seidel didn’t seem to mind.

“Truthfully, I wanted it as hard as possible,” she said after clinching bronze. “I think I thrive off a little bit of adversity. The course in Atlanta was a tough, hilly course. When the going gets tough, that’s my strong suit,” she added, referring to the race that brought her to these Games.

Seidel ran a tactical — and gutsy — race, staying with the lead pack, if not leading herself, for the entire course.

Her goal, she said, was to “stick your nose where it doesn’t belong and try and make some people angry.”

At least 15 of the 88 entrants would drop out. Even those who had previously thrived in hot conditions, like Ruth Chepngetich of Kenya, the 2019 world champion who won a marathon in 90 degrees at midnight, fell from the lead pack.

When Seidel approached the finish line, she pumped her fists in celebration and pointed to her U.S. jersey. She let out a scream as she neared the finish.

At the last minute, her coach told her to bring her medal uniform as she left for the race.

“Why would I bring that with me?” Seidel responded.

Turns out she needed it.

Brittney Griner, second from left with Sylvia Fowles, led the U.S. team in scoring in Sunday’s gold medal victory over Japan.
Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

SAITAMA, Japan — The U.S. women’s basketball team continued its run of dominance at the Olympics, defeating Japan, 90-75, on Sunday afternoon at Saitama Super Arena to claim its seventh consecutive gold medal.

The team has now won 55 consecutive games at the Olympics. The last time it lost a game in this tournament was in 1992.

Basketball:

Women’s

Gold

Medal

Game

Final

T

JPN flag

Japan

14

25

17

19

75

USA flag

United States


23

27

25

15

90

The veteran stars Diana Taurasi and Sue Bird each claimed a fifth gold medal, a new career record for basketball players at the Games.

But amid a generational changeover, there were plenty of assurances that the future for the team would remain equally bright. The Americans’ game plan, which never stopped working, was to get the ball inside to Brittney Griner. She led the team in scoring, with 30 points, and hardly missed a shot.

Japan, undersized and overmatched, relied on its outside shooting to keep the score close in the early part of the game. But the Americans were too clinical around the basket, too tough on defense. Japan will settle for a silver medal, its best finish in Olympic basketball.

Women’s

Basketball

Gold

Medal
 ›

  • AUS flag

    Australia

    55

    USA flag

    United States

    79

  • CHN flag

    China

    70

    SRB flag

    Serbia

    77

  • JPN flag

    Japan

    86

    BEL flag

    Belgium

    85

  • ESP flag

    Spain

    64

    FRA flag

    France

    67

  • USA flag

    United States

    79

    SRB flag

    Serbia

    59

  • JPN flag

    Japan

    87

    FRA flag

    France

    71

  • USA flag

    United States

    90

    JPN flag

    Japan

    75

  • Bronze

    SRB flag

    Serbia

    76

    FRA flag

    France

    91

The United States had won two silvers and a bronze in their three previous Olympics.
Credit…Alexandra Garcia/The New York Times

Coach Karch Kiraly barely mentioned the U.S. women’s volleyball team’s talent and athleticism when he talked about it at the Games. Instead, he spoke with pride of the atmosphere of “trust, accountability and democracy” that the women had created for themselves.

Foluke Akinradewo, a veteran middle blocker, said team members had made a conscious decision in recent months to express their emotions about the tension inherent in their quest for gold rather than running away from it.

“We allow ourselves to say to each other, ‘I’m nervous,’” Akinradewo said after the Americans’ quarterfinal win over the Dominican Republic. “We say we’re nervous, and then we get after it.”

It was, it turned out, a winning mind-set: On Sunday, the United States won the Olympic gold medal in women’s volleyball for the first time by beating Brazil, 3-0.

BRA flag

Brazil

21

20

14

USA flag

United States


25

25

25

The team’s run to the Tokyo 2020 final began long before the summer. In the spring, the United States brought its best players to the Volleyball Nations League in Italy, an annual competition among top countries.

Several teams chose to rest their top players this year; Kiraly used it as a kind of tryout, bringing 18 players and then whittling his roster to the top 12 he would take to Tokyo. The United States won the competition and has not let up since.

On Sunday, they completed their journey to their first gold with a sweep of Brazil (25-21, 25-20, 25-14). Andrea Drews had 15 points and Michelle Bartsch-Hackley added 14.

Eliud Kipchoge, 36, crossed the finish line to win gold in the men’s marathon on Sunday.
Credit…Charly Triballeau/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Eliud Kipchoge, 36, of Kenya won his second consecutive Olympic marathon on Sunday in 2 hours 8 minutes 38 seconds, reaffirming his status as the greatest runner in history over the distance of 26.2 miles.

He finished 80 seconds ahead of the silver medalist, Abdi Nageeye of the Netherlands, who ran 2:09:58. Bashir Abdi of Belgium took bronze in 2:10:00.

The race was held in Sapporo, Japan, 500 miles north of Tokyo, in an attempt to offer the athletes some reprieve from the severe heat and humidity in the capital. Still, the conditions were oppressive, with a temperature of 78 degrees Fahrenheit and the relative humidity at 86 percent at the start.

Galen Rupp, 35, the American who won a bronze medal at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, shadowed Kipchoge for the first 17.5 miles. At that point, Kipchoge gestured for Rupp to assist by running at the front. Rupp smiled but did not respond, and a seemingly annoyed Kipchoge began to pull away and took charge of the race, running alone for the final eight-plus miles. Rupp drifted back to eighth place in 2:11:41.

Time

KEN flag

Kenya

2:08:38

NED flag

Netherlands

2:09:58

+1:20

BEL flag

Belgium

2:10:00

+1:22

4
KEN flag

Kenya

2:10:02

+1:24

5
ESP flag

Spain

2:10:16

+1:38

6
JPN flag

Japan

2:10:41

+2:03

7
TAN flag

United Republic of Tanzania

2:11:35

+2:57

8
USA flag

United States

2:11:41

+3:03

9
MAR flag

Morocco

2:11:58

+3:20

10
BEL flag

Belgium

2:12:13

+3:35

Kipchoge did not come close to challenging his world record of 2:01:39 on this brutal day, but he became only the third man to win the Olympic marathon twice in defending his Rio Olympics victory.

Abebe Bikila of Ethiopia took gold at the 1960 Rome Games while running barefoot, and again in Tokyo in 1964, this time in shoes, and famously performed calisthenics in the infield.

Waldemar Cierpinski of the former East Germany won the marathon at the 1976 Montreal Games and the 1980 Moscow Olympics. But his victories, achieved in a country that operated a well-documented and pervasive system of state-sponsored doping, have come under suspicion.

The dominant success of marathon runners from the East African nations of Kenya and Ethiopia has, in an unfortunate way, made them largely nameless, their regular triumphs often viewed as identical, interchangeable. But Kipchoge has stood out for his speed and consistency, his pioneering achievement and his philosophical nature.

“All of us will be in the same frying pan,” he told reporters about the heat and humidity that were expected in Sapporo.

Kipchoge seemed relaxed from the beginning, bouncing lightly in shoes containing Nike’s latest technology, not bothering to wear a hat, occasionally rubbing small bags of crushed ice across the back of his neck and under his arms and pouring water across his shoulders to remain as cool as possible.

At about 11.5 miles, he smiled and fist-bumped the Brazilian runner Daniel do Nascimento. Four miles later, do Nascimento began to struggle and soon stopped running, collapsing in exhaustion on the side of the road. Kipchoge prepared to make his decisive move. Once he did, it quickly became obvious that no one could catch him.

After all, he had become the first person to run a marathon in under two hours, finishing in 1:59:40 (sometimes reported as 1:59:41) at an exhibition in Vienna in 2019. It was a laboratory experiment as much as a race, occurring in controlled conditions with pace-setting methods and the availability of fluids that did not meet the rules for a standard marathon. But Kipchoge still produced a sense of wonderment that a man could run 26.2 miles while sustaining a pace of 4 minutes 34 seconds per mile.

He entered Sunday’s race having won 12 of the 14 official marathons he had entered, including a remarkable 10 in a row over seven years. He set the official world record of 2:01:39 at the 2018 Berlin Marathon and seemed unflappable when the unexpected occurred. He won the 2015 Berlin Marathon even though the soles had begun coming off his Nike shoes.

Keyshawn Davis lost to Cuba’s Andy Cruz in the lightweight final.
Credit…Chang W. Lee/The New York Times

TOKYO — The United States claimed two medals in boxing on the last day of the Olympics as the lightweight Keyshawn Davis and Richard Torrez Jr., a super heavyweight, earned silver medals.

While the Americans have not secured a gold medal in boxing since the Athens Games in 2004, the two silver medals on Sunday, plus a silver won by Duke Ragan and a bronze collected by Oshae Jones earlier in the tournament, were an improvement for America’s boxing program: The four medals meant this was the most successful Olympic Games for the United States since 2000.

In the first fight, Davis tried to topple Cuba’s Andy Cruz, a two-time world champion who had beaten Davis in all three of their previous meetings. It was a steep task, particularly because Davis was unseeded and because he had to fight five times instead of four.

Both fighters looked determined at the outset, particularly Davis, who danced into the ring as chants of “U.S.A.” rang out from his supporters in upper deck.

While Davis looked for an opening to attack, Cruz landed several solid blows, helping him win the opening round, 4-1. In the second round, Davis came out as the aggressor trying to make up ground, a strategy that paid dividends in the second half of the round. Four of the five judges had the two fighters tied, while the Moroccan judge awarded the round to Davis.

Credit…Chang W. Lee/The New York Times

In the third and final round, though, Cruz took control. He won four of the five cards to secure the gold medal.

In the 276th and final bout of the Tokyo Games, the 22-year-old Torrez took on top-seeded Bakhodir Jalolov of Uzbekistan. At 6 feet 2 inches, Torrez was five inches shorter than Jalolov, and from the outset he tried to duck and bob to force the larger Jalolov to punch down. The plan worked initially, as Torrez was able to get to an exposed Jalolov and win the round, 3-2.

In the second round, Jalolov used his long reach to pummel Torrez, who sustained a cut above his left eye. In the third round, Jalolov landed several devastating hooks on Torrez, who by that point was struggling to mount any counter attack. In the end, Jalolov won a unanimous decision.

Torrez had been hoping to become the first American super heavyweight Olympic champion since 1984. Instead, he became only the third American super heavyweight to win a medal of any kind.

The bouts at the Kokugikan, the country’s premier sumo venue, were among the last chances for the Americans to overtake China in the race to claim to the most gold medals. Before the last four fights began at 2 p.m. local time, the United States and China had each won 38 golds.

Earlier in the day, the U.S. women’s basketball team beat Japan to win its seventh straight Olympic gold medal, while the American cyclist Jennifer Valente won another gold in track cycling.

Sandwiched between Davis and Torrez’s fights was the women’s middleweight gold medal bout between Lauren Price of Britain and Li Qian of China, China’s last chance for a gold. Price won.

The boxing tournament was held against the backdrop of ongoing drama at the International Boxing Federation, or AIBA, which has been embroiled in numerous scandals well before the pandemic. Frustrated by the organization’s lagging pace of reform, the International Olympic Committee in 2019 suspended the organization because it failed to adequately address judging problems, ethics violations and allegations of corruption in the organization’s top ranks.

The I.O.C. created a task force to run the qualifying events and the tournament in Tokyo. Morinari Watanabe, the chairman of the task force, sent officials at AIBA a fresh warning last week.

“I will say for the future of boxing, if they do an injustice, it is done,” he told reporters. “If they do it the right way, there is bright future for the boxing.”

Cory Juneau, who won a bronze in skateboarding. The Games this summer were often claustrophobic and cut off from society because of the pandemic.
Credit…Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times

TOKYO — On Sunday night in Tokyo, a stripped-down closing ceremony in Japan’s sprawling national stadium will bring this summer’s extraordinary Games to an end, concluding an Olympics that, in some sense, felt like an illusion — at times convincing and fully welcome, at others jarringly off-key.

Pushing forth in a pandemic, these Games were meant to be, as the International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach said last year, “the light at the end of this dark tunnel the whole world is going through.” Yet they were often claustrophobic and cut off from society, with capacious venues across Tokyo repurposed into cloistered safe houses.

They were, in this way, paradoxical, uncanny and hard to wholly comprehend. They were a feat of organizational planning and execution, even amid arguments about whether they should be happening in the first place. They were stubbornly called Tokyo 2020, a retrograde name that reminded everyone of the meandering path traveled to this point. They were a made-for-television spectacle, stage-managed at times to the point of absurdity.

For athletes, these were an Olympics of survival, of resilience, of getting by and sometimes, in the end, being OK with falling short of a target. Yet even among medalists, there were feelings of ambivalence about being here, about enduring the alienating circumstances of one of the oddest Olympics in history.

“I can’t wait to get home,” the American sprinter Allyson Felix said after winning a bronze medal on Friday to become the most decorated female track athlete in Olympic history. “I’m counting the days, there are so few now.”

The coronavirus pandemic forced athletes to travel and perform here without the presence of friends or family, to say nothing of fans. They spent their time largely confined to their rooms, specially arranged buses and sports venues.

Though the lasting effects of the Olympics on Japan will be determined only in the weeks to come, early signs showed that the health protocols — the effort to cut off thousands of visitors from Tokyo residents — seemed to work, at least in the short term. At a news conference on Friday, Bach reported that 571,000 screening tests had been performed at the Olympics, returning a positivity rate of just 0.02 percent.

But the path to that point, the means of establishing what an I.O.C. spokesman called a “parallel world” inside the Games, has had an unmistakably estranging effect.

Credit…James Hill for The New York Times

The first task for Tony Estanguet, the president of the Paris 2024 Olympic organizing committee, is to figure out how to plan an event for which preparations are likely to be affected by a pandemic now well into its second year.

Estanguet brought dozens of staff members to Japan to shadow organizers of the Tokyo Games — perhaps the most complicated, strangest Olympics in history — and to learn how to take a layered plan years in the making and rewrite it on the fly.

“Nobody knows what will happen with this pandemic,” said Estanguet, a three-time Olympic champion in canoe slalom, “so we have to be ready for any kind of scenario.”

At the Tokyo Games, he and his colleagues have visited stadiums and arenas where some of the world’s finest athletes have performed without spectators. He has met with some officials to discuss the finer points of biosecurity, and then sat down with others to learn about the successes — and failures — of bubble environments.

“The learnings of here is that it’s feasible to organize the Games even with this kind of situation,” Estanguet said. “So we are here to learn.”

Estanguet said the Paris officials would remain in Tokyo for further talks after the Games end on Sunday, and then do the same sort of shadowing program with organizers of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, where restrictions on movement and health protocols are likely to be even more stringent than they have been in Tokyo.

Yet Estanguet remains hopeful that the pandemic will be something for the history books by the time the Summer Games arrive in France.

“We will look at all the measures they put in place here, but we are still working on our Plan A,” he said. “I want my team first to be at the best level with Plan A.”

That plan is firmly underway. A sponsorship target of one billion euros has just passed the halfway mark, and the keen interest of both France’s president, Emmanuel Macron, and the mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, has already helped clear administrative hurdles.

Estanguet pointed out that the government had adopted a strategy — built around the Olympics — that for the first time requires every primary school in France to set aside 30 minutes a day for physical activity. That, Estanguet said, was an example of the benefits of the Games, already in place three years before the opening ceremony.

Such legacies have been promised by hosts before, of course, only to fizzle out. Instead, the Games have often been followed by recriminations over costs and stories of expensive venues fallen into disuse. Estanguet refused to predict whether Paris would meet its own set of lofty promises, but said the conditions were in place to do so.

“I will not guarantee you,” he said, “but everything is put in place for this new model.”



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See also  The Atlanta Falcons claim an N.F.L. first: 100 percent of its players are vaccinated.

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How to Save Money With Your Family

Saving money is never easy, and saving money as a family can be even more difficult. If you’re interested...

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Garth Brooks cancels tour dates due to Delta variant

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These are stories. This is the perspective of someone who has lived in exile, essentially since 1980. Salman...

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How to Be a Better Christian: 5 Important Tips

As a Christian, you believe in all the goodness...

How to Save Money With Your Family

Saving money is never easy, and saving money as...

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