The 45th edition of the Allianz Memorial Van Damme kicked off with the arrival of all Belgian Tokyo medal winners as well as those who achieved a top 8 result, a so-called Olympic diploma.
Heptathlete Nafi Thiam (gold), gymnast Nina Derwael (gold), the Red Lions men's hockey team (gold), marathon runner Bashir Abdi (bronze), judoka Matthias Casse (bronze), and the Belgian jumping team (bronze) and all the other Belgian Tokyo heroes were applauded by the 30,000 fans at the King Baudouin Stadium. Cyclist Wout van Aert, who took silver in Tokyo, was unfortunately absent due to his participation in the Tour of Britain.
The National Lottery - partner of Team Belgium and the Allianz Memorial van Damme - rewarded all medal winners and top eight finishers with a nice bonus, with a total payout of 571,500 euro. National Lottery CEO Jannie Haek handed over the Olympic prize after which the Belgian national anthem resonated in the stadium.
At the end of the night the Belgian Olympic heroes returned, joined by all Belgians who competed in Tokyo for a lap of honour around the track to the tune of Team Belgium's Olympic anthem Now’s The Time, by Regi and Mademoiselle Luna.
On a night of celebration, there was also a solemn Olympic minute of silence in memory of Jacques Rogge. The former BOIC (1989-1992) and IOC (2001-2013) president passed away last Sunday at the age of 79.