London Olympics: Coe praises UK 'spirit of generosity'
The "spirit of generosity" demonstrated by British people during the London 2012 Olympics has been hailed by Games chief Lord Coe.
The public mood was his highlight of the Games, which ended with a musical closing ceremony and the handover to the next host city, Rio de Janeiro.
The Olympic flag arrived in the Brazilian city on Monday night, marking the start of its preparations for 2016.
Meanwhile, the chairman of the British Olympic Association is to step down.
Having helped to steer Team GB to 29 golds and third place in the medal table at the London 2012 Olympics, Lord Moynihan wrote to the BOA executive board and the National Olympic Committee to confirm his decision.
He plans to remain as chairman until an election is held in November to find his successor.
Earlier, speaking at a press conference, the chairman of Games organisers Locog Lord Coe looked forward to the Paralympics, which will start on 29 August.
He said the Paralympics, first held in the UK in 1948, were "coming home".
Lord Coe predicted that people would be "amazed" by the "quality of sport they see" there.
"This is going to be an extraordinary moment for us," he added, saying his team was focusing on the transition process of moving from the Olympics to the Paralympics.'With grace'
Lord Coe drew particular attention to those he felt were responsible for the successful running of the Olympic Games.
He thanked the athletes for creating "moments of heroism and heartbreak", the spectators for their "spirit of generosity" and the volunteers for being the "best ever".
"Our volunteers have been sensational. They've had boundless enthusiasm, goodwill, humour - they've done it with grace. And they have in large part been the face of these Games," he said.
It comes after the London 2012 Olympics ended with a spectacular musical closing ceremony and the official handover to the next host city, Rio de Janeiro.
Figures from the BBC revealed that 26.3 million people in the UK watched the closing ceremony, compared with 27.3 million people who watched the opening ceremony on 27 July.
The corporation said the Olympics had become the biggest national TV event since the current measurement system began in 2002, with 90% of the population (51.9 million) watching for least 15 minutes.
The most watched athletic event was Usain Bolt's victory in the 100m final, with 20 million people tuning in on 5 August.
In other developments:
- Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt said the British public needed to "think about how we can bring out the best in our country" as part of the Games legacy
- Team GB's athletes have begun to return to their home towns. Leeds has welcomed back triathletes Alistair and Jonny Brownlee, cyclist Lizzie Armitstead and boxer Nicola Adams
- Four members of the Democratic Republic of Congo's Olympic delegation have gone missing in London
- The International Paralympic Committee is hopeful London 2012 will be the first sell-out in the Games' 52-year history. More than 2.1m of 2.5m tickets have been sold - 600,000 in the last month alone
- BBC Sport's website registered a record 55 million visits during the Games from computers and mobile devices around the world
- Lord Moynihan's decision to step down as BOA chief has taken quite a few people by surprise, including members of his own staff, according to the BBC's Gordon Farquhar
- 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
- Heathrow airport has created a special temporary terminal for athletes returning to their home countries after the Games. The airport is expecting 116,000 passengers on Monday, 8,000 of which are athletes
Sunday's three-hour closing ceremony featured some of the biggest names of British pop from decades past, including the Spice Girls, George Michael and Elbow.
During the ceremonial part of the show, the Olympic flag was waved aloft by London Mayor Boris Johnson and passed by President of the International Olympic Committee, Jacques Rogge, into the hands of the Mayor of Rio, Eduardo Paes.
The flame at the Olympic Stadium was then extinguished.
Mr Johnson admitted to a "momentary mad desire" not to hand the flag over to Mr Rogge.
He told journalists he felt "sadness that it's over", as well as a sense of relief that the Games had ended.
"Thankfulness that it's all over, but in a good way," he said.
The closing ceremony was watched in the stadium by the 10,000 athletes and 80,000 spectators, along with 26 million British TV viewers.
Mr Rogge, who declared the Games of the 30th Olympiad closed, said: "We will never forget the smiles, the kindness and the support of the wonderful volunteers, the much-needed heroes of these Games," he said.
He went on: "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."
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.