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Why Do They Hand Off The Olympic Flag At The Closing Ceremony? The Traditions Are Endless

The 2016 Olympic games in Rio came to a close Sunday evening, marking the beginning of the countdown to the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, Japan. Just like the opening ceremony, the closing ceremony came with a lot of traditions that many modern viewers may not be aware of. Therefore, it was no surprise that people were left wondering why they hand off the Olympic flag at the closing ceremony. Turns out the tradition is as meaningful as it is old.

So many of the closing ceremony traditions have been around for hundreds of years. For example, unlike the opening ceremony, the "Parade of Athletes" is not categorized by country. Instead, all of the athletes file into the stadium together, symbolizing the bond they now share, thanks to the games they have participated in, competed in and endured, together. Likewise, the passing of the Olympic flag from one country's representative to another's, marks the transition from the Olympic games that have just ended to the Olympic games that will start four years from now. In 2020, the Summer Olympics will take place in Tokyo, Japan, and during the closing ceremony the Olympic flag was accepted by the first woman Governor of Tokyo, Yuriko Koike. Koike is taking on arguably one of the most high-profile jobs and after a highly-publicized political scandal (that left the vacant seat for her to fill), so standing on the Olympic stage to accept the Olympic flag is, probably, small potatoes.

The internet certainly had words to say about the passing of the Olympic flag and, more importantly, the fact that Koike was accepting. Thanks to Japan's, at times, tumultuous political climate, it's nothing short of refreshing to see a woman accepting the Olympic flag on such a worldwide stage, knowing the importance and responsibility she carries to and for her country. Here are just a few reactions viewers had while watching the closing ceremony.

The excitement for the 2020 games in Tokyo is already palpable, thanks to this long-standing tradition of passing the Olympic flag from the current host city to the next host city. Having the first female governor accept the flag definitely added to the excitement, as did the elaborate presentation of Tokyo (complete with an appearance from Mario himself which, you know, you can't beat) and the random person flying the gay pride flag parade behind Brazil's president as he spoke. Hey 2020, we're ready for you!