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Tokyo receives Olympic baton from Rio as first Games in S. America end

Members of the Japanese wrestling team are seen at the closing ceremony of the Rio Olympics, on Aug. 21, 2016. From front left to right, Sara Dosho, Eri Tosaka, Saori Yoshida, Risako Kawai and Rio Watari. (Pool photo)

RIO DE JANEIRO -- The baton has been passed to Tokyo.

The Olympic flag was handed over from Rio de Janeiro Mayor Eduardo Paes to Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike via International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach during the closing ceremony of the Rio Olympics on Aug. 21 as the 17-day multi-sport event came to a close.

The first Olympic Games in South America got off to a shaky start with various problems including construction delays for venues and infrastructure in Rio de Janeiro, public security concerns, political instability and the spread of the Zika virus, but there were no major incidents to disrupt the Games and Brazilians managed to navigate the international event without a disaster.

The closing ceremony kicked off at 8 p.m. on Aug. 21 (8 a.m. on Aug. 22 Japan time) at the Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro amid rain. Athletes representing different countries entered the arena dressed in rainwear following flag bearers of each participating nation, including Japanese decathlete Keisuke Ushiro. Some 250 people in the Japanese delegation joined the closing ceremony, smiling and waving to the audience.

Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike, front right, receives the Olympic flag at the closing ceremony of the Rio Olympics, on Aug. 21, 2016. (Mainichi Photo/Daisuke Wada)

Tokyo was introduced as the next host city in an eight-minute performance during the Olympic flag handover ceremony, where Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, dressed in Nintendo's Super Mario costume, appeared from a green cylinder set at the center of the arena after supposedly tunneling from Tokyo to Rio in a mash-up of a video and reality.

The Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games sent about 180 staff members to the Rio Games and had them participate in learning programs organized by the IOC for future host cities. The programs were themed around some 80 different categories, including transportation, security, dining and volunteer work. They also took part in a program called "shadowing" where they spent time one-on-one with Rio Olympic organizing committee members. The Tokyo committee had been planning the 2020 Olympics using London as an example, but a committee official says, "There were a lot of things we learned from the Rio Games."

Tokyo Gov. Koike arrived in Rio on Aug. 19 and met with Rio Mayor Paes. She said, "I was inspired (when Mayor Paes said) that Rio will not make the venues 'white elephants.'"

Rio plans to make efficient use of the Olympic venues. The golf course that was built for the Games will become open to the public and the venue temporarily built for handball matches will turn into an elementary school after demolition.

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