Why Do Olympic Athletes March En Masse at the Closing Ceremony?

The Olympic closing ceremony differs from the opening ceremony - but not without reason

The Olympic Flame is seen before the Closing Ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Olympic Stadium on August 08, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan.
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As the Tokyo Olympic Games come to an end, the Olympians that competed will parade their nation’s flags in the closing ceremony. 

The ceremony will reflect the opening ceremony in some ways, but during the closing ceremony, athletes will parade in no particular order. 

The ceremony will also include a parade of flags of the countries that competed, starting with the Greek flag and ending with the host country, Japan. Each nation selects an athlete to bear the flag. Team USA chose four-time Olympian javelin thrower Kara Winger as their flag bearer.

The athletes marching en masse to end the games is meant to show togetherness and comradery after the competitive nature of the games. This idea dates back to the 1956 Melbourne games, originating from a young Chinese man named John Ian Wing. 

Wing wrote an anonymous letter with the idea to the International Olympic Committee, and the idea was implemented to great success. The Melbourne Olympics were henceforth known as the “Friendly Games.”

There will be fewer athletes during this closing ceremony, as athletes have been told to leave the country 48 hours after their final event for pandemic-related concerns. 

Thomas Bach, the president of the International Olympic Committee and an Olympic gold medalist in fencing, will make a speech.

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