The Tokyo 2020 Paralympics Closing Ceremony ended processions tonight ©Getty Images

After a year's postponement due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games ended two months of sporting action in the Japanese capital, with the Closing Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium.

Following 12 days of competition, the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) President Andrew Parsons and Tokyo 2020 President Seiko Hashimoto returned with triumphant speeches before the official closing of the Games.

Hashimoto spoke of the "long and arduous paths" athletes had to take during her closing speech, acknowledging the work needed for the Games to take place.

"Our long journey is now coming to an end," said Hashimoto. 

"The Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games are its final stage, and it has been wonderful to see each venue filled with smiles.

"I believe it was the indomitable spirit of all those who have overcome difficulty that shone so brilliantly on this stage. 

"We will use this brilliance to illuminate our road to further recovery."

Following speeches from Parsons and Hashimoto, the Paralympic Flag handover took place between the IPC President, Tokyo Metropolitan Governor Yuriko Koike and Mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo.

This starts the shortened Paralympic cycle up until Paris 2024.

During the handover, Paris 2024 held an artistic segment comprising of three parts, focusing on inclusive expression.

The first of these saw "sign-singer" Betty Moutoualaya interpret the French national anthem through body and sign language.

It was followed by hypnotic choreography put together by Sadeck Waff, featuring a team of 128 performers - of which 15 per cent were disabled, in alignment with the #WeThe15 campaign.

Finally, hip-hop artist Pone mixed and composed a musical performance with just his eyes, showing the capabilities of disabled people.

He developed amyotrophic lateral sclerosis in 2015, leaving him unable to communicate through anything except his eyes.

During his performance, Paris 2024 President Tony Estanguet and French Paralympic medallists celebrated at the "Lives des Jeux" site Trocadéro Gardens. 

The theme of the Closing Ceremony was "Harmonious Cacophony", showing a variety of artists coming together in a chaotic nature to demonstrate their unique styles and rhythm.

Hossain Rasouli and Zakia Khudadadi flew the flag for Afghanistan ©Getty Images
Hossain Rasouli and Zakia Khudadadi flew the flag for Afghanistan ©Getty Images

Afghanistan's two athletes - Hossain Rasouli and Zakia Khudadadi - were present for the entry of nations' flags, after arriving during the Games to compete in athletics and taekwondo respectively.

Both athletes looked like they were unable to travel to Japan after Afghanistan was taken over by the Islamic fundamentalist group, the Taliban.

The pair fled to France and spent a week training and quarantining, before being offered the chance to hold the flag together at the Closing Ceremony.

Six new members were elected to the IPC Athletes' Council, who in turn thanked volunteers for their hard work during the Games.

Italy's Martina Caironi, who won silver yesterday in the women's T63 100 metres, was one of those elected, along with now-retired Brazilian swimming great Daniel Dias, and eight-times Paralympic champion and most decorated Cuban Omara Durand Elias, who won three gold medals at Tokyo 2020.

Swimmer Takayuki Suzuki of the host nation Japan, Dutch wheelchair basketball player Jitske Visser and Iranian archery great Zahra Nemati were elected too.

The Tokyo 2020 Paralympics journey concluded with a colourful and uplifting Closing Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium ©Getty Images
The Tokyo 2020 Paralympics journey concluded with a colourful and uplifting Closing Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium ©Getty Images

The I'mPOSSIBLE Award was handed out at the Closing Ceremony to two athletes and three schools, recognising those who have worked towards inclusion.

Lassam Katongo of Zambia, represented by National Paralympic Committee of Zambia President John Kinuna, won the men's award.

Katongo is a two-times Paralympian, as a well as a coach, Board member and teacher of Para-sport.

Katarzyn Rogowiec of Poland, who is a standing cross-country skier, was also recognised by the IPC.

Kisarau Municipal Kiyomidai Elementary School and Chiba Prefectural Togane Special Needs Education School were the two host schools recognised by the award too, as well as Lilongwe LEA School in Malawi as the overseas school.

The Polish athlete is a two-times Paralympic champion, winning two golds at Turin 2006 and a bronze at Vancouver 2010.

Beatboxer Rin was one of five musicians who started off the Closing Ceremony in the "This is Tokyo" section, joined by four disabled artists.

Lisa, 13, who is in the girl band BAD BABY BOMB, played on the electric guitar, Hitomo Goto, who has a form of dwarfism, was on drums, visually-impaired Chihiro Watanabe played keyboard, and cerebral palsy violinist Mizuki Shikimachi were involved in the processions too.

LED lights then illuminated the stadium, paying homage to Street Fighter through an arcade feature, as well as portraying the streets of Tokyo, a music game and one of Japan's most famous past-times karaoke. 

Ending the night, pianist Gohei Nishikawa played Louis Armstrong's classic song "What a Wonderful World", backed by singers Yuina Koshio and Atsushi Okuno and signer Rimi.