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 249.

    It was great while it lasted and well done to all concerned - but it's over and like the bread and circuses of Roman times, the populace has been distracted for a while from what really matters, i.e. the dire state of the economy. The Coalition will get a bounce in the opinion polls and GDP will benefit from the Olympic effect, but in 6 months the Olympics will be forgotten as reality bites.

  • rate this

    Comment number 248.

    I enjoyed it, it was fun,
    I don't think anything could top Beijing's closing ceremony but ours went well and it was good, much better than Rio's bit which was very poor (sorry Pele).
    Whatever you do as the artistic director you know you can't please everyone and you have monetary constraints.As a result you go with what you have and can get - and your ideas, good or bad.

  • rate this

    Comment number 247.

    We have spent mega bucks and won medals because of it. Simple.
    Does sport matter, not really, neither do Olympics, in the final analysis sport comes under heading of pastimes, it is something to do as a change from work, it could be reading books or painting or anything else.....
    The BBC talk about sport as if it were life and death, it is a game, G-A-M-E!

  • Comment number 246.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this

    Comment number 245.

    Opening ceremony was a vague time-line of Brit history that had effort, numbers & Danny Boyle.
    Closing ceremony extremely chaotic hodge podge of karaoke, few Brit greats the rest has-been wannabes with fringe muppet's of no particular talent, redolent of dubious artistic taste and no redeeming factors,
    Such a high profile gig given to complete clueless wonders,

    Like G4S, & Daldry & Gavin.

  • rate this

    Comment number 244.

    Where was Lemmy?

    Right?!? Not to mention Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Pink Flyod, Zepplin, The Stones... the list goes on.

    ...But we did get "One Direction".

  • rate this

    Comment number 243.

    This was just a big concert celebrating western popular culture, this show lacked sophistication. What the hell has Kate Moss or Russel brand got to do with the Olympics or the Olympic spirit? I feel the closing ceremony was not in touch with the Olmpic spirit. The Olympics pushes people to their utmost ability through incredibile scarifice and hard work - this symbolism was forgetten completely.

  • rate this

    Comment number 242.

    224.Controlled Pair
    "They hate flag waging and patriotism." ... "If we could just corral the... whingers and put them all into some sort of detention camp"

    Perhaps blind patriotism is what they are against & the "hear no evil, see no evil" you would appear to be suggesting? I smell a hint on histoy from a European nation here.

  • rate this

    Comment number 241.

    A terrible 2 weeks for the Games Haters. All their miserable predictions proved wrong, their tawdry lives continue uninspired whilst the rest of Britain cheered and felt proud of their country. An unqualified triumph for our multicultural, diverse, eccentric and brilliant nation.

  • rate this

    Comment number 240.

    "Of course some didn't like it & they're entitled to their views but it's clear the vast majority were uplifted."

    I'd be very interested to see the statistical proof of this statment to back it up as, from the large majority I've spoken too, no one really gave a stuff and were more concerned about their own daily lives instead of an over priced sports day and a naff party.

  • rate this

    Comment number 239.

    Regardless of the athletes great accomplishments the closing ceremony was more like an ordeal and test of stamina...

    As usual their were HUGE amounts of empty seats which has been something of a theme during the Olympics so it must have been part of the ceremony to show how the great British Public fund these things yet over-administration and excessive charges wont let them use

  • rate this

    Comment number 238.

    Has anybody else noticed the 4p a litre increase in diesel in London over the last two weeks? Coincidence, or another example of what can be done when the population's attention is diverted elsewhere?

  • rate this

    Comment number 237.

    How about this for another headline for Great Britain. From the BBC this morning. "Employers face 'make-or-break' time, says CIPD" Reality sinks back in and all that money is gone in a few weeks of feel good factor for the masses

  • Comment number 236.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 235.

    I think One Direction are one of them Xfactor type bands that moroons keep spending money voting for in the delusion that their vote really counts to the end result. You know a bit like a General Election.

  • Comment number 234.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this

    Comment number 233.

    I hope those seats in the stadium were comfy enough. I thought the closing show was over-long and a little disjointed. The opening 10 minutes was probably the worst part. I wonder how many viewers switched off after this? The Spice Girls weren't bad actually, (compared with some others).

  • rate this

    Comment number 232.

    I think that the magical ingredient in making these games special has been the crowd. whereas in China the venues were spectacular, but the crowd didn't have their hearts in it, we have brought the games alive. I'm still not sure if.its been worth £9 billion though.

  • rate this

    Comment number 231.

    Always look on the bright side of life.

    What more could you want?

  • rate this

    Comment number 230.

    Cringed last night but looked spectacular and sure the rest of the world loved it.

    A good games all round, well done the troops and all those volunteers, shame the online booking system was so poor and the empty seats farce.

    I am unhappy not seeing the bill and I feel uncomfortable funding someone to run in a circle, nearly as bad as paying someone a fortune for kicking a ball.


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