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 609.

    Thankl the lord that's over with - Will the BBC report news from today? Would be nice to think they would.... Would have been nice to think they would have over the last two weeks but sadly no...

  • rate this

    Comment number 608.

    The last two weeks have truly been "Cool Britannia!" - unmanufactured, spontaneous and unashamed as everyone pulled togther!

    The most amusing thing is that it has left both international commentators and domestic whingers alike scratching their heads as to what to make of the re-invigorated, confident UK that has been presented, tested and overwhelmingly approved by our foreign guests.

  • rate this

    Comment number 607.

    not sue if anyone else has commented by thought singing "Pinball Wizard " with the repeated line "deaf, dumb & blind kid " the week before the Paralympics was a bit insensitive & not appropriate ?

  • rate this

    Comment number 606.

    There could not have been a starker contrast to the impact of the Opening Ceremony, the achievements of the athletes & the contributions of countless volunteers to some (not all) of the perfomances at the Closing Ceremeony. What on earth were we thinking, other than commercial shop window, involving so called super models, who's attributes appear to be wearing clothes & walking in straight lines!

  • rate this

    Comment number 605.

    I agree with Hazel - I cannot believe they used the song "Imagine". Poor choice. Maybe in Rio they will use one of the Hillsong anthems. Overall great coverage from the BBC hats off to them - far better that the poor German TV coverage.

  • rate this

    Comment number 604.

    Disgraceful that neither Elgar's music nor its performers - Julian Lloyd Webber and the London Symphony Orchestra were acknowledged. A sign of the times.

  • rate this

    Comment number 603.

    The closing ceremony was awful, a big let down from start to finish.

    Poor acts, dodgy visuals, confused theme, bad bad music *or* good music played by bad acts, Jessie J, some acts I've never heard of, bad sound quality, naff Eurovision style feel.

    Luckily it probably still wasn't the worst closing ceremony ever, and important thing is the Olympics overall was first class.

  • rate this

    Comment number 602.

    The Olympics were superb. Opening ceremony imaginative, moving & spectacular. Appropriate to focus on Britain, as hosts welcoming visitors from across the world. 16 days of fabulous sport. I'll never forget the smiling volunteers & goodwill that filled London. Closing ceremony barely gave a nod to sport or the other nationalities. It was rude to foist this Cool Britannia fest on our visitors.

  • rate this

    Comment number 601.

    After two weeks in which winning was measured by mm or 1/100" it seems odd that the same levels of excellence weren't brought to some of the acts. Sande and some other singers were painfully out of tune in musical styles where such things matter...

  • rate this

    Comment number 600.

    I'm not prone to quoting the guardian but I think Tim Jonze summed it up very well:

    "Just think: two weeks ago the world thought we were rubbish at sport and great at music"

    However, I would have forgiven them everything if they had reunited Oasis.

  • rate this

    Comment number 599.

    A jolly good show! (not the opening or closing ceremony as I didn't watch either..) Will all those Doomsayers just take one thing on-board, obesity is due to cost the NHS over 5Billion soon, if this spectacle increases participation in sports/activities by even 10% it will Pay For Itself in no-time at all...

  • rate this

    Comment number 598.

    I have loved every minute of the last 16 days, as have my children and I really wanted the closing to be great. It was a fun, party atmosphere which is what they aimed for, but such a shame that such awful role models (George M, Supermodels etc) were so prominent. Coverage not great either. Cameras missed some major moments.
    Gary Barlow, well done Sir. Olympic effort from him.

  • rate this

    Comment number 597.

    578.Christopher Evans
    "I'm getting a little fed up with all of this "the Olympics are over" stuff. They're not - there's still another two weeks to come. The difference is that the athletes have to be strong enough to deal with significant physical difficulties as well as their training."

    they are over, disability does not sell, wrong image for promotions

    (Good luck all in the paralympics)

  • rate this

    Comment number 596.

    An embarrassment - only watched the first 15 minutes.

  • rate this

    Comment number 595.

    @521 - Your comment is based upon incorrect information, the olympics did not cost £68 billion.

    In order to form an opinion it is wise to first make yourself aware of the facts.

    It is comments such as this which highlight the problem: ignorance, divisiveness and bigotry, whereas the message of the Olymipic movement is determination, unity and success. Think about which world YOU would prefer.

  • rate this

    Comment number 594.

    To be honest, I was hoping that the closing ceremony would just be Boris Johnson playing buckaroo for 3hrs...

  • rate this

    Comment number 593.

    People swimming in a pond, running round a field, cycling round a hall, finishing where they started, usually all within 1/10 second.

    Absolutely amazing, the most exciting thing since that magnolia gloss on the kitchen door hardened. And it only cost £13,000,000,000.00, what astonishing value.

    And the pinnacle of this non-event is more pop music for the underclass, bread and circuses indeed.

  • rate this

    Comment number 592.

    Enjoyable event tho why R.Brant was chosen beats me. Nostalgia and world wide recognisable sing along songs got all the athletes joining in. It was their party. I stayed up to the end tho I had no intention of doing so.

  • rate this

    Comment number 591.

    It would have been nice , if the planners had shown up and taken a bow. I mean it would have been nice to see them all with their ceremonial aprons , bowler hats etc , why don't the Freemasons show themselves more in public?

  • rate this

    Comment number 590.

    Imagine there's no olympics.


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