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 849.

    One plus of the closing ceremony was there was only one Beckham in view.

  • rate this

    Comment number 848.

    @822.nicknack1, I have to agree Led Zepplin really should have been there.

  • rate this

    Comment number 847.

    Come on people - why oh why do we have to moan about everything and find fault all the time, I think the Aussie "whinging pommes" label is becoming a reality. Yes - things are tough at the moment, but when we have done something well which we just have, lets not automatically try and find fault and beat ourselves up all the time.

  • Comment number 846.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 845.

    The closing ceremony was much better and more relevant and engaging than the opening ceremony which was a load of tosh that concentrated too much on history. What I want to know is, what is Winston Churchill to the future of the UK doing in the closing ceremony? Stop looking to the past, tomorrow is what counts not yesterday.

  • rate this

    Comment number 844.

    Every time "rent a legend" grey old Brian May does a self indulgent Queen solo at one of these big events, a bit of Freddie's spirit fades away. This was a sad end to a fantastic two weeks. They should have made more of thanking the athletes after they'd spent hours coralling them together.

  • rate this

    Comment number 843.

    I am confused. What is a word of decent? Is it a word of descent perhaps? Or a word for all the decent people that participated in the games?

  • rate this

    Comment number 842.

    Honest summary of the closing ceremony. It was far far too long and it became utterly boring and totally meaningless! - sorry to all the happy clappies but I think most people would agree with that!

  • rate this

    Comment number 841.

    A ten year olds view of British music. And those celeb singers, some very dubious history and character there. Naff models? Acrobats? Paper people on chariots?

    Says a lot about Britain today. A country with little substance in decline.

  • rate this

    Comment number 840.

    812. Gnome Chomsky - Olympics is supposed to be apolitical or at least political neutral. This board is talking about the closing ceremony of the Olympic Games it has expanded into other aspects of the 'games' but quite why you see the need to talk about Politics and push your own agenda is beyond me. Would be quite happy to discuss politics with you on a more appropriate board.

  • rate this

    Comment number 839.

    The Olympic games were visually great, super sporting venues and backdrops, great crowds and excellent sporting entertainment. Must be one of the best Olympics ever. In contrast, in my opinion the opening and closing ceremonies were both rubbish and a total waste of money. Both ceremonies were pretentious, wierd, puerile, disjointed and poor quality. A bad reflection on Britain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 838.

    Wasn't it nice to see sportsmen and women that could string a sentence together. All through the Olympics. It felt odd at first. Shame the football season is about to start. I'm embarrassed people consider football our national sport. Be so much nicer if we could support intelligent sport. iSport as opposed to dumbFootball.

  • rate this

    Comment number 837.

    I have to say that freedom of speech and opinion doesn't appear to be very welcome in Cameron's Neo Britain. In a true democracy people are allowed to express themselves both positively and negatively without fear of being threatened with being shipped out of the country. Therefore those making these threats have no interest at all in freedom and democracy.

  • rate this

    Comment number 836.

    loving all the comments "what about our great British composers" etc... that was in the opening... this was about a party for the athletes and the world. Enjoy the British Culture that is happening now...

  • rate this

    Comment number 835.

    Old git alert.
    Who is jessie J? I thought her voice fantastic with that grey man band at the end, Pavarotti eat your heart out mate.

  • rate this

    Comment number 834.

    #779, Yes, got the irony, and also wondered whether sudden appearance of a troupe of Indian dancers appearing from nowhere during the Eric Idle / Monty Python set was by accident or design given David Cameron's recent comment.
    Last night's even covered about 50 years of British popular culture without becoming too deferential - and we have such a diverse nation you can't please everyone.

  • rate this

    Comment number 833.

    Or because Olympic team ball sports like hockey, handball and water polo don't tend to take up as much time as rugby, cricket and netball in schools. Rugby sevens is coming to the Olympics soon and maybe 20/20 in the future? Maybe netball?
    Footballing woes are more to do with the Premiership.

  • rate this

    Comment number 832.

    Disappointingly bland closing ceremony after such a great Opener and games. were they trying to ease us back into celebrity dullness or something? Good to see Freddie though .

  • rate this

    Comment number 831.

    Lots of negative comments from New York and France - right throughout the Olympics - sour grapes perhaps?

  • rate this

    Comment number 830.

    I would be delighted to be a 'winger' if my joints were up to it but I suspect that the poster intended 'whinger' which I would resolutely defend. Yes, I think that the opening and closing ceremonies could have been done twice as well for half the cost, but that doesn't deprecate the Games themselves or the athletic prowess. Rather BBC doesn't allow for sufficient words to critique the ceremonies


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