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Closing Ceremony celebrates cultures and challenges

Fireworks ring the Olympic Stadium during the Closing Ceremony.
Fireworks ring the Olympic Stadium during the Closing Ceremony.

The Games that were postponed and then threatened by a global pandemic closed with a mix of sentimentality and joy, celebrating many different cultures before emphasizing Japanese traditional music and a dazzling video montage of the next Olympic host, Paris.

Elegant classical music gave way to a jaunty march as flag bearers, including U.S. javelin thrower Kara Winger, stepped into the stadium, followed by a sizable contingent of athletes who took down their masks just long enough for the occasional selfie.

The music continued and segued into passages representing many countries, including many instruments from Asian cultures and even a brief smattering of bagpipes.

Following the usual custom, Tokyo handed off to Paris, which seized the moment by turning the national anthem over to shots of musicians all over Parisian landmarks and even some skate parks.

SEE MORE: The 2020 Tokyo Games conclude with a message of thanks

After the formalities, a group of smiling children took center stage before the cauldron wasn't so much extinguished but closed upon itself, signaling the end of these improbable, spectacular Games.

But Tokyo isn't done. The Paralympics start in two weeks.

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SEE MORE: Paris teases 2024 Games during Closing Ceremony