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Happy and glorious, London signs off in style

Last updated on: August 13, 2012 11:02 IST

Happy and glorious, London signs off in style

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Harish Kotian

A celebration of British music, recognition of those who have contributed to the success of the Olympics Games and the resurrection of influential figures in British history were at the centre of a spectacular Closing Ceremony as London brought the Olympic Games to a fitting climax.

-London Olympics 2012 - Complete coverage

The Ceremony began by showcasing a day in the life of London, from the hustle and bustle of early-morning rush hour to a glittering sunset. The scene also witnessed the first of many reincarnations of the British flag, the first being a series of newspaper ramps portraying a monochrome version of the Union Jack.

With city life in full flow, Winston Churchill appeared from the top of Big Ben. Churchill, Britain's prime minister on two occasions and celebrated for his leadership during World War II, silenced the deafening noise and gestured to the Royal Box, announcing the arrival of His Royal Highness Prince Henry of Wales and Jacques Rogge, president of the International Olympic Committee.


Image: A performer, dressed as Winston Churchill, stands atop the Big Ben as he participates in the closing ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games
Photographs: Sergio Moraes / Reuters

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A sea of Union Jacks then filled the stadium in a reference to the flag-mania that swept the country earlier in 2012 in celebration of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee.

The flag was then transformed again. This time, it morphed into a huge floor cloth measuring 5,600 square metres and created by artist Damien Hirst.

The stadium then put on a giant street party as a nod towards the community-based events that have been held in honour of royal occasions since Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee in 1897.

A typical street party is known for tea, cake and children's games, but the Closing Ceremony street party was on a slightly grander scale. Scenes from cult British film The Italian Job, classic British TV comedy Only Fools and Horses and music acts, starting with Madness, singing Our House.


Image: A video of musician John Lennon singing his classic 'Imagine' is seen on the screen during the closing ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games
Photographs: Sergio Moraes / Reuters

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Happy and glorious, London signs off in style

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Madness was followed on stage by The Pet Shop Boys and current global phenomenon One Direction as the street party got into full swing. As it drew to a close, a London black cab arrived. The passenger turned out to be Ray Davies, who then led the stadium in a rendition of Waterloo Sunset, the 1967 classic he penned for his band The Kinks.

The Games of the XXX Olympiad has witnessed 303 events, and the 10,490 athletes who gave blood, sweat and tears during the past 16 days, were then celebrated with the Parade of Athletes.

British band Elbow performed Open Arms and One Day Like This before the athletes flooded into the stadium to rapturous applause.

The party then paused for the men's marathon victory ceremony, a time-honoured tradition for the Closing Ceremony.

Image: Boy band One Direction performs at the closing ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games
Photographs: Sergio Moraes / Reuters

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Happy and glorious, London signs off in style

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During the course of the Games, athletes have continuously displayed the Olympic values of excellence, friendship and respect and the four newly elected members of the IOC Athlete's Commission were then recognised.

The 70,000 volunteers have already been held up as the centre point of this Games and they were then honoured for their energy, enthusiasm and remarkable dedication by being showered with petals.

Music has been one of Britain's strongest cultural exports over the past 50 years and the Closing Ceremony then showcased a collection of the country's most globally successful musicians including David Bowie, The Beatles and the Bee Gees.

Those performing in person included George Michael, Annie Lennox and Beady Eye, with frontman Liam Gallagher performing Wonderwall, one of the defining songs of the 1990s.


Image: British singer Emeli Sande (right) performs during the closing ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games
Photographs: Sergio Moraes / Reuters

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The star acts continued with the appearance of The Spice Girls, Britain's most celebrated girl group and the epitome of girl power, who had reformed for one night only.

London 2012 is the third time London has hosted the Games, the most by any city, but the Closing Ceremony is also a time to look forward to the next Games.

After further musical skits from the Electric Light Orchestra, Queen, Muse, and a rendition of the Monty Python song, Always Look on the Bright Side of Life, the road to Rio started to unfold with an arrow pointing the way to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Following the Olympic Anthem sung by the London Welsh Male Voice Choir and the London Welsh Rugby Choir, Boris Johnson Mayor of London, handed the Olympic Flag to IOC president Jacques Rogge, who in turn presented it to Eduardo Paes, the mayor of Rio de Janeiro.

Image: The Spice Girls perform during the closing ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium
Photographs: Stefan Wermuth / Reuters

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The handover signals the first time a South American country will host the Olympic Games and Rio then gave a taste of the colour and rhythm the world will experience in four years time with a contagious mix of culture, music and dance.

From a street cleaner practising Samba steps to a carnival parade invading the stage, Rio showed the world they will be ready to host some party for the world in 2016.

The Games of the XXX Olympiad then drew to a close with speeches by Sebastian Coe, chairman of the London 2012 Organising Committee and Rogge, the president of the IOC.

Coe, winner of two gold and two silver Olympic medals, addressed the nation by saying: "We lit the flame and we lit up the world; we know more now, as individuals and as a nation, just what we are capable of."

He concluded: "When our time came, Britain, we did it right. Thank you."

Rogge said: "We will never forget the smiles, the kindness and the support of the wonderful volunteers, the much-needed heroes of these Games."


Image: The Olympic Flag is handed from Mayor of London, Boris Johnson to IOC President Jacques Rogge, who passes it to Mayor of Rio de Janeiro, Eduardo Paes during the Closing Ceremony
Photographs: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

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At the Opening Ceremony, the Olympic Flame was memorably lit by seven aspiring athletes and the extinguishing of the flame also left a dramatic memory. As the final flames flickered in the Olympic Cauldron a new flame emerged and formed a flaming 20m wide phoenix high above the audience in the stadium.

The celebration of British music and culture continued right to the end, with Take That appearing to sing Rule the World, before world-renowned prima ballerina Darcey Bussell was joined by 200 ballerinas to perform Spirit of the Flame, composed by David Arnold.

The finale was left to one of the UK's most celebrated rock bands, The Who. The band performed a collection of songs before concluding with My Generation, bringing to an end more than two weeks of incredible sporting action, a celebration of all that is good about London and providing a legacy to inspire a generation.


Image: Brazillian artists for Rio 2016 perform during the Closing Ceremony on Day 16 of the London 2012 Olympic Games
Photographs: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

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