The president of the Tokyo Olympic organizing committee said Sunday the games were held without major incident and were a source of hope for the world despite the unprecedented challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic.
Wrapping up 17 days of the games, Seiko Hashimoto said the highest priority was given to ensuring they were delivered in a "safe and secure" manner by putting anti-coronavirus measures in place. She refrained, however, from declaring the event a success with an eye on the approaching Paralympics.
Hashimoto said the decision to hold most Olympic events without spectators, though "unfortunate," was requisite to gain public support for the decision to go ahead with the games when Japan is still struggling to curb coronavirus infections.
"We have realized the games by prioritizing safety, and we have now come to the closing day without seeing big problems on the whole," Hashimoto told a press conference.
"Judgment will have to wait until after all Olympic and Paralympic events are over...At this point, we cannot call it a 100 percent success," Hashimoto said hours ahead of the closing ceremony.
The Japanese government and other organizers faced strong domestic opposition to holding the games and some feared that they would become a coronavirus superspreader event.
The organizers had sought to reassure a wary public by vowing to implement effective anti-virus measures.
The number of COVID-19 cases confirmed since the start of July among people associated with the Olympics totaled 430 while the daily count in Tokyo more than doubled in recent weeks, eclipsing 4,000 for the fifth straight day, and the nationwide cumulative tally topped 1 million on Friday.
Hashimoto said relevant parties, including the Japanese government and the International Paralympic Committee, will make a judgment on whether to permit spectators for the Paralympics from Aug. 24 "carefully and at the right time."
The Tokyo Olympics have been unprecedented on many levels. The pandemic made the sporting spectacle what Hashimoto described as "the most digitalized ever" event.
Athletes had to undergo screening tests every day in principle and medalists were asked to wear masks on the podium.
The organizers created a "bubble," isolating athletes and other people involved in the games from the Japanese population to prevent transmission of the virus.
According to the committee, 19 athletes missed all or some Olympic competition due to COVID-19 infections or being a close contact with a person who had tested positive for the virus.
"Heading into the Paralympics, we will strive to create a perfect environment in which people will not get infected or get others infected," Hashimoto said.
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