London 2012 Olympics close with spectacular ceremony


The London 2012 Olympics closing ceremony got off to a spectacular start

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The London 2012 Olympics have ended with a spectacular musical closing ceremony and the official handover to the next host city, Rio de Janeiro.

The three-hour show featured some of the biggest names of British pop from decades past, including the Spice Girls, George Michael and Elbow.

Games chief Lord Coe said: "When our time came - Britain, we did it right."

The official Games flag was handed to the mayor of Rio before the flame at the Olympic Stadium was extinguished.

President of the International Olympic Committee, Jacques Rogge, who declared the Games of the 30th Olympiad closed just before midnight, said: "We will never forget the smiles, the kindness and the support of the wonderful volunteers, the much-needed heroes of these Games.

"You, the spectators and the public, provided the soundtrack for these Games.

"Your enthusiastic cheers energised its competitors and brought a festive spirit to every Olympic venue."

Best of British

At the close of the ceremony, watched by 10,000 athletes and 80,000 spectators in the stadium along with 26 million TV viewers, the flame was extinguished in dramatic fashion.

Each nation will receive one of the cauldron's 204 petals.

Spice Girls "Girl power" reigned over the Olympic Stadium as the Spice Girls performed

In other developments:

  • Nadzeya Ostapchuck, of Belarus, has been stripped of the gold medal in women's shot put after failing a drugs test. New Zealand's Valerie Adams has been promoted to first place
  • London airports expect to handle the departure of about 200,000 people a day this week as visitors leave following the Games. Some 120,000 are expected to leave Heathrow each day, with a further 70,000 set to fly from Gatwick
  • Private security firm G4S has donated £2.5m to the armed forces after troops had to stand in for its absent staff during the Olympics
  • Commentators from around the world have begun to reflect on the success of the Games, as have British observers.

On Sunday, at the closing ceremony, fireworks went off above the east London stadium, the Who performed My Generation and the venue was transformed into a sea of red, white and blue confetti.

The finale, which began with Big Ben chiming, paid tribute to UK music, fashion and culture.

At the scene

For a while yet, the British public can forget their Olympics are coming to an end - the light of the closing ceremony can take the edge off any sadness.

Artistic director Kim Gavin billed this as an unashamed after-show party. And it has been a pure and fairly straightforward celebration of the last 50 years of pop, with Elgar and Russell Brand thrown in.

Unlike the opening ceremony, it doesn't have to set any scene or make any statement for a coming event. So why not roll out some of the top acts - from Annie Lennox to One Direction, Spices added.

All in the presence of a mosh pit full of Olympian athletes and the Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry, who have enjoyed these Games as much as the next sports fan.

Worrying about the Olympics being over? That's for another time.

Prince Harry represented the Queen at the ceremony, which took place on top of a stage in the shape of a union jack and saw a volunteer cast of 3,500.

The show saw the Spice Girls re-form to sing Spice Up Your Life from the top of five London taxis, and a surprise performance from Take That, who sang their hit Rule the World. It had been thought they would not appear because Gary Barlow was mourning the loss of his daughter who was delivered stillborn last Saturday.

Artistic Director Kim Gavin also brought together household names, including George Michael, Jessie J, Emeli Sande, Madness, the Pet Shop Boys, One Direction, Ray Davies and Liam Gallagher, as the best of British music went on show to the world.

During the ceremonial part of the show, the Olympic flag was waved aloft by London Mayor Boris Johnson and passed by Mr Rogge into the hands of the Mayor of Rio, Eduardo Paes.

The Brazilian national anthem rang out and the stadium was transformed into the green and yellow colours of Brazil's flag.

'Lit up the world'

London 2012 chairman Lord Coe told the audience: "Today sees the closing of a wonderful Games in a wonderful city.

Flag handover The Olympic flag was handed to the mayor of Rio

"We lit the flame and lit up the world."

The official handover also saw a celebration of Rio's mix of cultures, music and dance, bringing a carnival atmosphere to the proceedings.

Earlier, there was a riot of colour as the athletes entered the stadium, with four-time Olympic gold medallist sailor Ben Ainslie carrying the British flag and leading out Team GB.

The smiling athletes filled each section of the floor of the stadium, to the sound of Elbow playing their atmospheric hit, One Day Like This.

As is traditional during the closing ceremony, the final medals of the 2012 Olympics were handed out. On this occasion they went to the athletes in the men's marathon, which was won by Uganda's Stephen Kiprotich.

The 70,000 Games Maker volunteers were also thanked for their hard work during the 16 days of competition.

Home-grown fashion was celebrated with appearances from models Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell, both wearing the creations of the late Alexander McQueen, while British eccentricity also featured, with comedian Russell Brand singing the Beatles' I am the Walrus from the top of a psychedelic bus.

London 2012 statistics

  • Team GB won 65 medals in 16 different sports
  • The US topped the medal table with 46 golds - their best performance in an overseas Games
  • There were 44 world records and 117 Olympic records during the 16 days
  • US swimmer Michael Phelps became the most decorated Olympian of all time as he increased his career tally to 22 medals
  • Sir Chris Hoy became the most successful British Olympian ever, adding another two golds to his previous four

Comedian Eric Idle drew much laughter when he performed a typically quirky version of Always Look on the Bright Side of Life, and Muse rocked the stadium with the official anthem of the Games, Survival.

The Games ended with the US topping the final medal table with 46 golds, followed by China with 38 golds. GB came third with 29 golds - their best tally since 1908.

The Queen earlier said Team GB's "outstanding" performance had "inspired" the country.

The last day saw a final - and 29th gold - for Team GB, with boxer Anthony Joshua winning his super-heavyweight bout.

In all, 44 world records have been set during London 2012, and 117 Olympic records broken.

Among those to have set new world bests included Kenyan David Rudisha in the men's 800m and the Jamaican sprint relay team, which included 100m and 200m gold medallist Usain Bolt.

Olympics coverage online

Olympics images

US swimmer Michael Phelps became the most decorated Olympian in history while cyclist Sir Chris Hoy's two gold medals meant he became the most successful British Olympian of all time.

Earlier, US President Barack Obama telephoned Prime Minister David Cameron to offer his congratulations for a "brilliant" London Olympics, Downing Street said.

On Sunday, crowds also packed London's Hyde Park to watch the sporting action on big screens and enjoy a farewell concert headlined by Blur.

The Paralympics is set to start on 29 August, with the revamped 560-acre (227-hectare) Olympic Park site - to be known as the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park - then set to reopen from the first anniversary of the opening of the Games, on 27 July 2013.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 29.

    Jessie J needs putting out of her misery after that embarrassing attempt at singing a classic. I was hoping Brian May would shut her up, but it never happened.

  • rate this

    Comment number 28.

    Had to turn off after 10 mins. This was the one of the most embarrassing things I've ever seen. The UK must be a laughing stock. The pathetic Pet Shop Boys, some unknown DJ and the utterly appalling George Michael do not represent British Music.
    Time to shut up about these games now BBC.

  • rate this

    Comment number 27.

    Overall, it was pulled off better than I expected but I can't be the only one that thought some parts of the closing ceremony were a bit rubbish. The Who, the John Lennon bit and Eric Idle were brilliant, but why would Jessie J sing with Queen? and why did they let george michael in to the stadium?

  • rate this

    Comment number 26.

    Britain has delivered brilliantly! All expectations surpassed! The performances, the lighting, the staging, the whole lot! The 'G' in GB is truly GREAT!! What a show for the rest of the world to see. Congratulations everyone!

  • rate this

    Comment number 25.

    After an incredible opening ceremony and brilliant games I was utterly disappointed and embarrassed by the closing ceremony. Barely one of the performers was able to sing in tune - it was painful to the ears. There are so many moments I could list which were just dreadful, but not enough space here. Such a shame.

  • rate this

    Comment number 24.

    This has been a superb global advert for the UK. We will never be able to truly estimate the impact across the world, but it will have been huge.

    Now comes the hard part.

    Adverts can bring people to your door, but then you have to convert them to your brand. This is down to British Business rather than government. It is up to us to carry the baton from here...

  • rate this

    Comment number 23.

    An absolute corker of a show to top off the best two weeks of sport ever televised. So very proud to be British and have such an amazing line up of sports men and women. Lets keep the moaning idiots away from here for as long as possible. Well done Great Britain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 22.

    A fitting end to the games, not as spectacular as the opening, but great in it's own way. Not every moment or every song was for me, but plenty were. I loved the design representing the flag, bridges, etc which looked great.

    I enjoyed the fact that everyone has been able to feel proud to be british.
    "We don't look the same as you, we don't do the things you do, but we live round here too."

  • rate this

    Comment number 21.

    I liked the Lennon tribute but I wonder what he would've thought of all the fine sentiment with Syria being destroyed as I write. And it went downhill from there. The awful Jesse J falling to her knees at the end of We Will Rock You. Grotesque. Why all those white 40 something middle of the road has beens?

  • rate this

    Comment number 20.

    What a Rip Roaring success, in true British fashion.
    I was so fearful that the 2012 Olympics would be an unmitigated disaster but, at long last, when our country pulls together we can deliver the greatest show on earth.

    Well done to everyone involved no matter how small part you played.

  • rate this

    Comment number 19.

    Well it all went well till George Michael came on looking like he had lost the rest of the village people, and sounding crap. Even the DJ on radio two this morning commented how he fell asleep bored while George was trying to sing.

  • rate this

    Comment number 18.

    We had some real big hitters in the games itself, and then performing music afterwards. I mean, even the Spice Girls took part... we shouldn't forget that last nights music festival closing was to show the world what Britain has done for entertainment and there were bands, groups and solo artists known from London to Sydney to Rio to Beijing!

    Only UK can pull that off, sorry USA but we rock!

  • rate this

    Comment number 17.

    Loved the Grand Finale; kudos to Kim Gavin & of course sleek Brazilian elegance following fashion salute &SpG.Techies were my unsung heroes of XXXOly: brilliantly done! Note to DBoyle: no need to be so Self-Aware all the time.Much more effective Simply to Be. Loved the star turn of the Best Words ever written in English: To Be or Not to Be & The Rest is Silence.Wow: Boris & RBallet, great dancing!

  • rate this

    Comment number 16.

    I certainly wouldn't say a spectacular ceremony, more like dull and boring. I personally fought that after the awful opening ceremony things might be a little better. I certainly was not gripped to the viewing until the Rio team came on, then the excitement begin.

    What must the rest of the world think; it was an embracing couple of hours in my opinion.

  • rate this

    Comment number 15.

    Yeah the closing ceremony wasn't perfect, but with Brian May and Muse it rocked !!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 14.

    I earnestly hope the BBC website will be updated now. Some pages were abandoned for two weeks (science, health, etc., were largely ignored). Daily, the home page was inundated w/Olympics-related news.

    One had to scroll all the way down to see passing mention of:

    "And in other news: there was an earthquake in Iran, Romney chose a running mate and that little girl's body has been found."

  • rate this

    Comment number 13.

    Fantastic games in every sense.

    Britain should be very proud of a fantastic games, both in terms of performance and organisation.

    Thanks to Team GB and all the volunteers for showing the world how well Britain can do when we set our minds to something.

    And ending the show with The Who was inspired!

  • rate this

    Comment number 12.

    It was a memorable event, more so because it was created and made sucrssful by ordinary people no fat cats Lords or Sirs, chairmans or presidents of the establishments were not there to spoil it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 11.

    Proud to be a Brit. Shows that when the big questions are asked we have the answers. We should all stop being so introspective and doubtful and rejoice in what we are truly capable of.

    The greatest, most visible show on earth - DELIVERED !

  • rate this

    Comment number 10.

    What a great 2 weeks of sport and positive role models. Can't wait for the Para-Olympic Games to start.

    Only one thing missing from the closing - what no Duran Duran with Rio?


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