The 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games has drawn to a close, with Ukraine finishing the games with a total of 19 medals, including 12 bronzes, 6 silvers, and 1 gold medal.
Unlike other years, there will be no fanfare for the Ukrainian Olympic team’s return to Kyiv. Olympic athletes, upon completing their final event, are obliged to return to their country of origin within 48 hours due to COVID-19 restrictions. As a result, only those athletes having competed in the previous day’s events were present at the Olympic closing ceremony.
Ukraine did not perform as well as previous years, only securing 1 gold compared to 2 in 2016 and 5 in 2012. Ukraine finished the games with its lowest ranking in its 30-year history, finishing 44th in total. This is likely a result of difficult training conditions during the COVID-19 pandemic in Ukraine. Ukraine has also competed with its fewest athletes in the history of its independence, with just 155 taking part.
Despite fielding fewer athletes, Ukraine finished comparably to the 2012 London Olympics, which featured 83 more athletes. This is the most bronze medals that Ukraine has won since the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, demonstrating Ukraine’s ability to get onto the podium.
The closing ceremony was celebrated with possibly one of the more unique ways. As the COVID-19 pandemic has prevented spectators from viewing in the Olympic stadium, and quarantine requirements keeping athletes within the Olympic village, organizers decided to bring a taste of Tokyo to the stadium.
A total of 4,599 athletes and participants convened in the center of the stadium in what was described as a replica of Tokyo’s lively parks. Actors, acrobats, and performers acted out the lively energy of Tokyo city life to the backing track of lively ska music. Among the oddities, a ska rendition of Beethoven’s Ode to Joy and a live turntable scratching DJ.
The ceremony later featured a traditional Japanese taiko drummer, accompanied by traditional dances from across Japan.
Utilising the power of computer graphics, an impressive light show was displayed to viewers as the Olympic rings descended on the stadium. The Olympic games will next be held in 3 years’ time in Paris, France.
Around a dozen Ukrainian athletes were able to attend the closing ceremony of the Olympics, with wrestler Elbrus Tedeyev baring the flag for Ukraine.
Ukraine’s Olympic highlights
Ukraine’s athletes won medals in 12 different fields, with athletes performing particularly well in wrestling, karate, canoeing, and artistic swimming.
Elina Svitolina made history for Ukraine by winning the nation’s first ever Olympic medal in Tennis, defeating Kazakh rival Elena Rybakina for bronze.
Ukraine excelled in canoeing, with Ukrainian sportswoman Liudmyla Luzan winning a silver and a bronze in the women’s double 500-meter sprint and single 200-meter sprint.
In the pool, Ukrainian swimmer Mykhailo Romanchuk won a bronze medal in the men’s 800-meter freestyle. Artistic swimmers took home two bronze medals for Ukraine in both the team and duet routines.
On the fencing piste, Ukrainian Igor Reizlin won a bronze medal in epée, winning out against Italy’s Andrea Santarelli. Ukraine had not reached a fencing semi-final for 17 years, with Ukrainian fencer Vladyslav Tretyak last winning bronze in 2004.
Ukraine’s Olympic main highlight will undoubtedly be its victory in the men’s 87-kilogram Greco-Roman wrestling, with Zhan Beleniuk taking home Ukraine’s only gold of the games. Beleniuk’s first ever Olympic gold, the athlete and politician danced a traditional hopak in the arena to celebrate his win, delighting fans.
In the 67-kilogram weight category, just moments before Beleniuk’s victory, wrestler Parviz Nasibov won silver for Ukraine after being defeated by Iranian Mohammadreza Geraei. Nasibov vowed to come back stronger for his next Olympic games.
In other good news from the wrestling mat, women’s 62-kilogram freestyle wrestler Iryna Koliadenko won a bronze medal on her Olympic debut, beating Latvian wrestler Anastasija Grigorjeva 3:1.
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