London ends Olympics on extravagant notes

Dazzling three-hour closing ceremony featured music legends and contemporary pop stars before handing off to Rio 2016.

The London 2012 Olympics have closed with a dazzling extravaganza of music and dance that rocked a main stadium filled with royalty, celebrities, 10,500 athletes and a sea of exuberant spectators.

The three-hour show starred the latest names in pop, a holograph of late Queen frontman Freddie Mercury, the Spice Girls, and Monty Python actor Eric Idle.

Sebastian Coe, chairman of London Organising Committee told the crowd:”Britain, we did it right” echoing his statement on day one of the Olympics where he pledged that Britain was determined to show the nation at its best.

The 80,000-seat Olympic Stadium was transformed for the closing ceremony into a mini-London, with model landmarks, including Tower Bridge and St Paul’s Cathedral on a Union Jack shaped stage.

The ceremony opened with nine strikes of parliament’s “Big Ben” as singer Emeli Sande was unwrapped on a newspaper garbage truck to sing “Read All About It”.

The audience cheered as Prince Harry arrived to represent his grandmother Queen Elizabeth alongside International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge.

Then the party, watched by 300 million people globally, really took off.

‘Happy and glorious’

Rogge described the Games as “happy and glorious”, lifting the words from the national anthem, a homage to Queen Elizabeth.

The Olympic flag passes from London to Rio in 2016 [Reuters]

A troop of 160 guards from the Household Division Ceremonial State Band joined the arena. They were followed by the Pet Shop Boys singing “West End Girls” and teen heartthrobs One Direction.

Athletes from the 204 competing nations joined 30 minutes into the ceremony, entering casually rather than parading in their national teams as at the opening ceremony.

Waving flags and proudly displaying medals, the athletes streamed past volunteers in blue bowler hats decorated with light bulbs, taking photos of the audience and new friends among the other 10,500 athletes who departed on Monday.

Winners from the men’s marathon held on Sunday took to the podium for the final award ceremony of the Games, with Rogge presenting the gold medal to Ugandan Stephen Kiprotich.

The voices of late singers Freddie Mercury and John Lennon filling the night and the stars really started to come out.

George Michael appeared dressed head-to-toe in black leather, wearing shades as he belted out his hit song “Freedom”. 

The stadium shook as 50 pimped-up scooters, with echoes of Britain’s 1960s Mod era, raced in with the Kaiser Chiefs.

Nine British super-models, including Naomi Campbell and Kate Moss, strutted to a David Bowie soundtrack. Singer Annie Lennox sailed in a ghost galleon singing “Little Bird” and Ed Sheeran arrived on stage to sing Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here” as a tightrope walker dangled over the stadium.

One of the biggest cheers of the night came as five coloured London taxis drove into the centre of the stadium letting out  the Spice Girls.

Jubilant crowds cheered as the singers climbed into cages above the taxis and drove around the stadium singing “Spice Up Your Life”.

Former Oasis frontman Noel Gallagher and Muse followed. The list went on with the stars reportedly being paid £1 pound for the privilege to perform at one of the biggest events in Britain’s history.

Brazil handover

A burst of fireworks signaled the start of the formal proceedings of the night with two male choirs singing the Olympic anthem as the Olympic flag was lowered and passed by London Mayor Boris Johnson to the 2016 host city, Rio.

Brazil then gave a taste of what can be expected in four years’ time with a colourful show of samba and tribal dancers and an appearance by famous Brazilian football player Pele.

Speeches by Coe and Rogge moved quickly to the close with the Olympic cauldron lowered to ground level and the band Take That singing “Rule the World”.

The audience did not want the night to end, booing as the moment came to extinguish the Olympic flame.

But a performance by veteran rockers The Who and blaze of fireworks complete with a shower of red, white and blue confetti ended the Games as they started with cheers and laughter.

Source: News Agencies