Tokyo capped the 2020 Olympics on Sunday with a dazzling fireworks display, a celebratory image in contrast with an event that was not the financial windfall Japan had hoped for after postponing the Games for a year due to the global health crisis.
Organizers said the unprecedented event – held mostly without spectators – would serve as a symbol of world triumph.
But while organizers appeared to prevent the Tokyo Games from spiraling into a superspreader event, daily COVID-19 infections in the host city ballooned during the Games, spiking to more than 5,000 for the first time in Tokyo and threatening to overwhelm its hospitals.
Despite restrictions being in place, people gathered for the closing ceremony outside Tokyo's National Stadium, where roughly one hundred protesters carrying signs that read "Olympics kill the poor" and "We don't need the Olympics" clashed with police.
Public opinion polls showed most Japanese citizens opposed holding the Games during a worldwide health crisis.
In the end, Japan was saddled with a $15 billion bill, double what it initially expected, and with no tourism boom.
But a record medal haul for the host nation may have helped to take out some of the sting for Japan, which won 27 gold medals.
The United States finished at the top of the pack with 39 gold medals, one more than rival China at 38.