The 2017 Olympic closing ceremony marked the end of the games in Rio, and the countdown to the 2020 Olympic games in Tokyo, Japan. While the beginning of the closing ceremony started with a bang (literally, thanks to a spectacular fireworks display atop the Maracanã Stadium), many viewers were wondering why the Olympic closing ceremony stadium looked so empty, as no one could be found seated towards the front of the stage.
Of course, there's no cause for concern. The athletes don't enter the stadium immediately or before the ceremony actually starts, so the empty seats were reserved for the real heroes of the games, the competitors. Yes, some athletes do leave the games (and the country) before the closing ceremonies. However, and for the most part, the athletes stick around to celebrate the end of the games and their many, amazing accomplishments at the closing ceremony. Those seats, should they decide to use them, are absolutely available for the individuals who spent the last 16 days earning honor (and sometimes medaling!) for their countries.
In fact, the parade of the athletes is arguably even more extravagant at the end of the Olympic games than it is in the beginning. Instead of the athletes being separated by country, they all file into the stadium together; one mass of competitors, now bound together by the Games. A fitting symbol, considering the many stories we have heard and been inspired by during this year's Olympics. For example, the New Zealand and American runners Nikki Hamblin and Abbey D’Agostino helped one another up after colliding during the 5,000-meter race. While they were competing against one another, they ultimately helped one another. That, in a nutshell, is the spirit of the Olympics.
Still, the fact that the stadium needed room for the mass of competitors to file in and take their places didn't keep viewers from taking to Twitter and voicing their concerns about the empty-looking stadium:
It can be easy to forget how many athletes compete at the Olympic games. This year, there were 11,544 competitors in Rio. That's a lot of people who need a lot of space, so not to worry viewers: the empty seats won't be empty for long. Plus, you've got to remember that the rest of the stadium is packed with fans and well-wishers alike. At every possible moment, you could hear the crowds roaring in full-belly delight as the athletes, performers, and dancers made their way into the stadium. It was a night Brazil won't soon forget — and neither will the rest of the world.