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Tokyo Olympics 2021 closing ceremony: times, protocol and flag bearers by country

The Tokyo Olympics will officially be over on August 8, with the traditional extinguishing of the flame at the closing ceremony.

Japanese Tennis player Naomi Osaka lights the Olympic flame in the cauldron during the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium.
DPA vía Europa Press

When and where to watch?

NBC will be airing the ceremony live on Sunday, August 8 at 7 a.m. ET, however, a full, prime-time replay will be shown that same evening at 7 p.m. Moreover it will also be live streamed through the NBC stream service Peacock.

Closing ceremony's evolution through time

Closing ceremonies have been around since the first Athens Olympiad back in 1896. Since the very beginning, closing ceremonies took place at the end of every Olympics to celebrate the end of the Games and beginning of the next ones. 

Nevertheless, it wasn't until the 1920 Antwerp Games where the "traditional" artistic version of the Games was first implemented by Pierre de Coubertin. Antwerp carried out the first structured closing ceremony with certain rules to stick with, elements which have continued thrilling all of us until this day.

Some of those protocol elements include: 

The playing of the Olympic anthem

The Olympic anthem or "Olympic Hymn" was originally created in 1896 by a Greek poet. However, it was later adapted in 1958 by the International Olympic Committee and played for the first time at the 1960 Winter Olympics.

The entry of nations' flags

According to the International Olympic Committee, the flag parade should be in the host's language alphabetical order, with the exception of Greece, which opens the entry due to historical reasons and the host country, in this case Japan, bringing up the rear. France and USA will enter second-to-last and third-to-last respectively, as the next two host nations of the Olympic Games.

Each country's national Olympic committee will vote for an athlete to be the flag bearer.

Victory parade

Handing out of medals

Winners will be handed their medal awards during the victory ceremony.

USA's players pose on the podium with their gold medals after the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games women's water polo final
Full screen
USA's players pose on the podium with their gold medals after the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games women's water polo finalADEK BERRYAFP

Moment of remembrance

This element was first introduced in the last Olympics at Rio 2016, where for the first time ever a place for mourning with a stone from Olympia was provided in the Village to remember those who passed away. A moment of remembrance is now allowed during the closing event so everyone can remember their loved ones. Most likely this year will be announced as a moment to remember all the coronavirus victims the pandemic has left behind.

Playing of the Greek national anthem

The seventh protocol dictates that the Greek flag is raised to the left of the Olympic flag. This moment happens at the same time as the Greek national anthem is played in the background. This moment implies the unity of the old Greek Olympiads with the new era of modern Olympic Games.

Lowering of the Olympic flag

As the ceremony advances, the event gets more emotional. This element is one of the most moving ones of the whole ceremony. The current host country's flag is lowered and handed to the next host country.

Therefore, as we reach this point in Sunday's ceremony, Japan will lower their flag, which will be handed by the mayor of the host city to the International Olympic Committee, which then hands it to the next host country's mayor. The current Olympic nation's anthem will be played simultaneously in the background.

Extinguishing of the Olympic flame

The last element of the protocol is the extinguishing of the Olympic cauldron that was lit by tennis star Naomi Osaka during this summer's opening ceremony. Once the flame is extinguished, the Olympics are over.

Covid safety restrictions

The Tokyo Olympics have had to be carried out amid strict restrictions to ensure the safety of athletes and stop the spread of coronavirus through the Japanese host city. This summer's Games not only have been unique because they had to be postponed, but mostly because no fans were allowed to enter the stadium, not even at the opening ceremony.

The closing ceremony will only be attended by major officials, organizers and athletes. No public will be allowed inside the enclosure.

Also, due to the pandemic, athletes were required to fly back home within a maximum of 36 hours after their last Olympic appearance. This has made selection of flag bearers for the closing ceremony even more difficult, because half of the athletes were back home.

US flag bearer at Olympics closing ceremony

The US team will enter the stadium in third-to-last position, as they did in the opening ceremony. This positioning reminds spectators that US will be hosting the 2028 Olympics in Los Angeles. France, which will be host nation for Paris 2024, will enter behind the US, a spot ahead of Japan.

Women's javelin thrower Kara Winger was announced Friday as the US flag bearer for Tokyo’s closing ceremony.

The Washington state native, after being chosen by a vote of Team USA athletes, will become the fourth track and field athlete to carry the American flag for the closing ceremony.

Winger’s debut at Tokyo 2021

A 196 feet throw in the preliminaries saw her finish 17th in Tokyo, not qualifying for the finals by little, which is made up of the best 12 from the qualifying round.

“It’s an incredible honor to be selected by my fellow Team USA athletes to be our flag bearer.”

Kara Winger

“There’s no better way to conclude my career as an Olympic athlete than to lead the US team into the closing ceremony," says Winger.

"On behalf of Team USA, we want to thank the Tokyo Organizing Committee, the people of Tokyo and the country of Japan for hosting these Olympic Games and bringing the world back together again through sport.”

Confirmed Flag Bearers by Country

CountryFlag bearer (s)Sport (s)
United States of America (USA)Kara WingerJavelin
Peru (PER)Alexandra GrandeKarate
Australia (AUS)Mat BelcherSailing
Spain (ESP)

Sandra Sánchez, Damián Quintero


France (FRA)Steven Da CostaKarate
Philippines (PHI)Nesthy PetecioBoxing
Argentina (ARG)

Pedro Ibarra, Noel Barrionuevo


Italy (ITA)Lamont Marcell JacobsAthletics
India (IND)Bajrang PuniaWrestling
Netherlands (NED)Sifan HassanAthletics
Uruguay (URU)María Pía FernándezAthletics
Brasil (BRA)Rebeca AndradeGymnastics
Saudi Arabia (KSA)Tarek HamdiKarate
Ireland (IRL)Natalya CoyleModern Pentathlon
Germany (GER)Ronald RauheCanoe
Estonia (EST)Maicel UiboDecathlon
Chile (CHI)Maria Jose MailliardCanoe
Algeria (ALG)Walid Bidani, Loubna BenhadjaWeightlifting, Athletics
Puerto Rico (PUR)Rafael QuinteroDiving
China (CHN)Su BingtianAthletics
Greece (GRE)Giannis FoundoulisWaterpolo
Austria (AUT)Jakob SchubertClimbing
Hong Kong (HKG)Grace LauKarate
Malta (MLT)Andrew Chetcuti, Eleonor BezzinaSwimming, Shooting
Armenia (ARM)Hovhannes BachkovBoxing
ROCAbdulrashid Sadulaev Wrestling

Zambia (ZAM)

Syndey SiameAthletics

Canada (CAN)

Damian WarnerDecathlon

Belgium (BEL)

Gregory WatheletEquestrian

Malaysia (MAL)

Pandelela RinongDiving

South Africa (RSA)

Anaso JobodwanaAthletics

Great Britain (GB)

Laura KennyCycling

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