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 109.

    I was afeared McCartney and Hey Jude would close again but The Who were awesome. Who are they? Says my flatmate despite watching every NCIS Miami Vegas New York ever. Spice Girls were a pleasant joke, Liam has lost it and FBS had to stand their pretending to spin records. Where was Bowie? And just as we have been looking up to women for their exploits we cheer models for what they look like. 7/10.

  • rate this

    Comment number 108.

    It was all good fun, but only time will tell whether we got our money's worth.

  • rate this

    Comment number 107.


    And the whole thing was worthwhile just for the Queen set. Brian May's Brighton Rock solo - absolutely superb.

    But who was the guy earlier in a spangled jacket and Union Flag t-shirt? He was pretty good too.

  • rate this

    Comment number 106.

    I loved it - from the moment Bradley Wiggins rang the huge bell on the opening night right through until the last moment of the closing ceremony it was brilliant.

    We showed the world that even in straitened times Brits can all come together and put on a show to be proud of.

    Wouldn't it be nice if that spirit of togetherness continued - who knows what we could accomplish?

    Well done, us!

  • rate this

    Comment number 105.

    The sound quality for the closing ceremony on TV was absolutely dreadful. No excuses.

  • rate this

    Comment number 104.

    I sure someone will accuse the English of being racist in it somewhere.

  • rate this

    Comment number 103.

    Great BBC had a channel to enjoy the event without talking all over it.Show was at time strange,at times wildly out of tune, but always spectacular.But I have to admit to include Fools and Horses meant nothing to other than UK,the wire walker slot for the Pink Floyd song (ruined by this line up) meant little if you didn't know the album cover.The Who closed it all still the best band in UK ever.

  • rate this

    Comment number 102.

    Don't let anyone get away with perpetuating the fiction that the opening night was an overwhelming success.

    Local opinion polls in my area confirmed my impressions from talking to people. A small minority thought it was great. A small minority thought it was crap. The vast majority was neutral, a bit baffled, and not massively interested. Few actually discussed it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 101.

    My viewing of it lasted a whole 30 minutes, just couldn't stand tolerate any more - utter rubbish.

  • rate this

    Comment number 100.

    An amazing show following an inspirational fortnight that gave the country a much needed shot in the arm. Yes, some of the acts were a little older, but many of these Olympians will have grown up to acts like the Spice Girls, so why not?! Let's ride the wave of positivity quickly before the naysayers take us back to where we started.

  • rate this

    Comment number 99.

    It has been the most unifying, inspiring triumph. The greatest post war moment in London's history. I have never seen the city so happy, so proud. The athletes triumphed beyond all expectations, the public were sensational coming out in their millions to cheer great sport. I am overwhelmed with pride and gratitude to this magnificent city. The closing ceremony was, like the opening, joyous!

  • Comment number 98.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 97.

    The opening ceremony celebrated everything that was great and important about Britain, the closing ceremony with the exception of a few talented artists was a nod to the rubbish parts of it, a celebration of tacky, manufactured pop-bands and the me-me-me culture, no-one will remember it thankfully, it'l be eclipsed by an astounding Olympic games.

  • rate this

    Comment number 96.

    Loved our opening ceremony,artistic,bright,cultural and intelligent.But the closing ceremony I thought represented a lot that was really bad about British music.It seemed to me it was thrown together with the attitude, 'oh everyone loves pop music' Pop music shouldn't represent Great Britain. The whole nation doesn't like Pop.Opening ceremony represented youth, closing ceremony represented oldies.

  • rate this

    Comment number 95.

    I am not a great sport watcher but I can appreciate and admire the dedication and talent shown by all Olympians who gain my respect for what they have achieved. Can someone please then explain why Premier League footballers are worth £200,000 a week by comparison?

  • rate this

    Comment number 94.

    Following a spectacular opening ceremony, and one of the best Olympic games ever the closing ceremony was an embarrassment. A selection of great British music that most of the performers couldn't even seem to sing in tune.

    To top it off they wheeled in a man atop a bus who is banned from half of the representing nations!

  • rate this

    Comment number 93.

    The sport was brilliant...but some of the other stuff is a bit before-the-last-century. Basically it's a primitive Promethean cult - "the olympic flame burning bright..."

    Seb Coe, why aren't you in charge of everything?

  • rate this

    Comment number 92.

    I think we must reserve the final judgement for about 5 years, to see if all the venues are still in fine shape and regular use, or, like Athens, they are becoming shabby relics with talk of redeveloping the sites.

  • rate this

    Comment number 91.

    I was looking forward to something spectacular after watching all of the opening ceremony.
    Maybe the closing ceremony had too much expectations from us all.
    The athletes did us proud so let's remember London 2012 for that rather than a closing ceremony

  • rate this

    Comment number 90.

    I sat there last night for three hours waiting for trhe closing ceremony to start. It did with the fireworks.....Total anti-climax after a brilliant games and rip-raoring opening ceremony


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