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 809.

    @798. Sidney Monroe
    "People are allowed to say that the the closing ceremony was a shambles. And millions would leave this country - if they could."

    Until you live in another country you probably won't realised how lucky you are to live in the UK.

    More on topic, well done to everyone involved in the Olympics, fantastic organisation, great atmosphere, you did our country proud.

  • rate this

    Comment number 808.

    American colleagues kept asking if the olympics was getting in the way of things. Uh no! the UK is bigger than just London an thankfully being 300 odd miles away the only noticable part of the olympics was in my ignoring it. Odd how other countries would think it was a London centric event isn't it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 807.

    British music from the last 50 years? Where were the Stones? The Sex Pistols? The KLF? Why do we have to suffer George Micheal? Why do we have to have the sub-American fake rappers? (That's about as British as sauerkraut.) And what was the Indian stuff about?

    At least we weren't subjected to McCartney!

  • rate this

    Comment number 806.

    this isn't my comment, but for the guardian's facebook feed but its worth putting here....

    "When you have run out of olympic pictures, big earthquake in Iran happened over the weekend, that is if you're interested :("

  • rate this

    Comment number 805.

    IMO the Closing Ceremony was just a kind of large scale 'Royal Variety Performance'! A bit of mediocre song and dance, a few West End show excerpts, a bit of comedy, and some acrobats!
    But the real star here is the Games itself - the athletes, the games organisation / security, and in particular the army of quite brilliant volunteers. Quite simply the best advert for the UK in many years!

  • rate this

    Comment number 804.

    I was initially sceptical about it all but I now admit that view was wrong. The games created a good feeling, in my home town we had many foreign football fans who were welcomed, the South American girls certainly brightened the streets! Its the best this country has felt in a long time, heaven knows we need that. Finally, an old cliche but true whatever your view.. KEEP POLITICS OUT OF SPORT!

  • rate this

    Comment number 803.

    How can we improve GB further? Well here's a start....

    You take the pessimistic moaners on HYS.

    You round them up, and put them on a boat.

    And you sail them out to a remote island, whereby they can whinge and curse forever until their hearts are content.

  • Comment number 802.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 801.

    756.Wazza v3
    Incredibly sad that it is over. Spent the last 2 weeks in a euphoric bubble and loved every single moment
    Of course. That's the trouble with living a dream. Sooner or later you have to wake up and face reality.

  • rate this

    Comment number 800.

    #782 The Stones don't own the rights to their old songs. Google 'Alan Klein' who Keith Richards described as 'the price of an education'.

    Paul McCartney used to have similar problems. He had to ask Michael Jackson (and pay him) for permission to perform old Beatles songs

  • rate this

    Comment number 799.

    Though the closing ceremony was good. I think the organisers missed a trick. They should have had a ten minute intermission from the music with the cast of Coronation Street against the cast of East-Enders in a Total Wipeout style fight to the death blood bath.

  • rate this

    Comment number 798.

    767.Phil Barnes
    "Yes, sir, what ever you say sir. I shall not think for myself sir. I shall do only what I instructed to do sir.Do I wave the flag with my right or left hand sir?"

    'If its so bad here, why do you continue to live here...'

    People are allowed to say that the the closing ceremony was a shambles. And millions would leave this country - if they could.

  • rate this

    Comment number 797.

    Yes, the closing ceremony was a let down with all its celebrity vacuousness. However, don't let that overshadow 2 weeks of magnificence:

    - thank you athletes for a sensational spectacle
    - congratulations to every medal winner
    - Team GB, you've done a small nation proud
    - volunteers, thank you thank you thank you
    - well done Seb for a very tough job, done very well

    Now, back to the daily grind...

  • rate this

    Comment number 796.

    @660 Stevio.

    Watching the olympics in Germany you would have thought that they had made clones of William, Kate and Harry... They were everywhere. The German commentators were amazed that they were so close to the people, (one commenting that William and Kate were only 2 rows in fromt of her!)
    And in case you've missed it, both William and Harry have jobs in the Armed Forces.

  • rate this

    Comment number 795.

    Although I preferred the grander and intricate detail of the opening ceremony I still felt the closing was a lot of fun (even though it wasn't quite as coherent)!

  • rate this

    Comment number 794.

    Not my first choice of acts in some cases but the overall design work was spectacular and whoever stage managed the lighting deserves a medal.

    if this was purely an advertisement for London and the UK, the two ceremonies and the games as a whole were a major success...if this doesn't massively boost UK tourism and our international reputation as a 'can do' nation I will be so surprised.

  • rate this

    Comment number 793.

    I think it all went off well and showed the best of what Britain can achieve. It also showed the tremendous diverse nature of the people that make up the UK. We can all hold our heads a little higher this morning.

  • rate this

    Comment number 792.

    @708.voice of reason, Why didnt we win? we were up against China, who take kids at young ages and train them to the point of perfection, leaving them no time for other things just as the russians used to do. The Americans throw huge money at sports, especailly colleges, where you can get a free ride through scholarships if you have a talent for athletics, swimming etc.

  • rate this

    Comment number 791.

    Highlights amongst the dross were Idle's bright side of life when his cannon went wrong (for all the athletes that didn't medal I assume?). Jesse J, Muse and Elbow were quality, but most of it had more to do with waster culture than olympic spirit. Sad drug addicts and fashion? Liam's voice and Lennox died and Lennon IS dead, so is Mercury! So bad it made the Spice Girls look good. Russel Brand?

  • rate this

    Comment number 790.

    Well done Team GB! I am really proud of the athletes!

    I am still annoyed that they managed to mess the ticketing up so spectacularly.


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