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Olympics closing ceremony: When it starts, how to watch and what to expect in Tokyo

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After heartwarming, triumphant moments and despite heartbreaking ones, the Tokyo Olympics are coming to a close.

The 2020 Games, contested in 2021, will go down in history for more than the usual record-breaking performances. The coronavirus pandemic loomed over the Olympics for more than a year, delaying it from its original date and causing a plethora of restrictions on participating athletes. Athletes competed in empty stadiums in the first-ever Olympics without spectators.

Even with all the precautions, COVID-19 cases still soared in Tokyo throughout the Games. Almost 100 virus cases were tied to the Olympics before the opening ceremony even happened, and the number only increased with competition underway.

People sit in the empty stadium before the opening ceremony for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Summer Games at Olympic Stadium on July 23, 2021.
People sit in the empty stadium before the opening ceremony for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Summer Games at Olympic Stadium on July 23, 2021.

But good things happened at the Tokyo Games, too. Four new sports debuted, and both baseball and softball made a return to the Olympic slate. More mixed-gender events were added in efforts to increase gender equality at the Games. The first openly transgender Olympians competed in Tokyo, along with other queer athletes.

So while some may want to forget these Games, there are many reasons to remember them. Here's everything you need to know about the last event in Tokyo, the closing ceremony:

When do the Tokyo 2020 Olympics end?

The Games of the XXXII Olympiad conclude on Sunday, Aug. 8, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan.

When does the Tokyo Olympics closing ceremony begin?

The Tokyo Olympics closing ceremony will occur at 7 a.m. ET on Sunday, Aug. 8, 2021.

Where will the closing ceremony be broadcast?

The closing ceremony will be broadcast live on Peacock starting at 7 a.m. ET.

Here's a list of all of NBC's closing ceremony coverage:

2 a.m. to 7 a.m. ET: "End of Olympics" Programming (USA)

7 a.m. ET: Live Closing Ceremony coverage (Peacock)

7 p.m. to 8 p.m. ET: Tokyo Gold (NBC)

8 p.m. to 11 p.m. ET: Primetime Closing Ceremony (NBC)

What to expect at the closing ceremony

The last day of the Tokyo Olympics will feature more than just the closing ceremony. Finals for women's volleyball, men's water polo and boxing will all see winners on the podium ahead of the Olympic closer.

Like the opening ceremony, little is known about what exactly the closing ceremony will entail except for a theme: "Worlds We Share." According to a press release, the theme is meant to make athletes and viewers "think about what the future holds" and "expresses the idea that each of us inhabits their own world."

There will be no fans inside Olympic Stadium for the event, but there likely will be some outside. Hundreds of spectators gathered outside the stadium for hours during the opening ceremony. Some were there in protest of the Olympics happening while Tokyo was under a state of emergency due to COVID-19.

Many athletes have already traveled back to their home countries, reducing the number of athletes marching even more than at the opening ceremony. Due to COVID-19 protocols, athletes were required to leave Japan within 48 hours of "the completion of their competition or when they are eliminated (whichever is sooner)."

Those athletes who are still around, at least those for Team USA, have different outfits for the closing ceremony than their opening ceremony garb. The U.S. Olympians will wear white jackets with blue collars and hoods designed by Ralph Lauren.

An early look at the Ralph Lauren uniforms Team USA athletes will wear at the closing ceremony in Tokyo
An early look at the Ralph Lauren uniforms Team USA athletes will wear at the closing ceremony in Tokyo

Baseball's Eddy Alvarez and basketball superstar Sue Bird carried the flag for the U.S. at the start of the Games. Traditionally, countries vote on which athlete bears their flag at the closing ceremony based on their performance.

In the closing ceremony, Kara Winger, a four-time Olympian for javelin and U.S. track and field captain, will carry the flag for the United States. Winger, 35, joins a distinguished list of flag bearers which has included Don Schollander, Al Oerter, Willie Davenport, Mia Hamm and Simone Biles.

It is "an incredible honor," Winger said. There’s no better way to conclude my career as an Olympic athlete than to lead the U.S. team into the closing ceremony."

Other countries have also already made their picks. Gymnast Rebeca Andrade, who won silver in the all-around and gold on vault, will carry the flag for Brazil. Texas-born sprinter Marcell Jacobs, the surprise winner of the men's 100-meter race, will carry Italy's flag.

And, of course, the Olympic flag will be handed off from Japan to France for the 2024 Paris Olympics.

Contact Emily Leiker at eleiker@usatoday.com or on Twitter @emleiker

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Olympics closing ceremony 2021: What's planned for final day in Tokyo