Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

ENCORE!

Tunisia's Carthage International Festival turns 50

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

WWI Centenary: the battle for Verdun

Read more

THE BUSINESS INTERVIEW

When big companies want to do good

Read more

REPORTERS

Halal tourism on the rise

Read more

FOCUS

Many Turks angry over Syrian refugee situation

Read more

ENCORE!

Shakespeare’s 450th Birthday : The Best of the Bard

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

The Tour de France, a PR machine

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Coverage of the third plane crash in one week - from France, Algeria and Burkina Faso

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Coverage of the plane crash that took 116 lives - almost half of them French

Read more

  • Live: ‘No survivors’ from Algerian plane crash, says Hollande

    Read more

  • In pictures: Debris and devastation at Air Algérie Flight AH5017 crash scene

    Read more

  • Paris bans new Gaza protest scheduled for Saturday

    Read more

  • French families grieve for Algerian plane crash victims

    Read more

  • Protest against Gaza offensive turns deadly in West Bank

    Read more

  • LA Times wipes France off the map in air crash infographic

    Read more

  • Tour de France fans bring the ambience to the Pyrenees

    Read more

  • Halal tourism on the rise

    Read more

  • French lawyer files complaint against Israel at ICC

    Read more

  • Ukraine names acting PM after Yatseniuk's shock resignation

    Read more

  • BNP to pay $80 million for defrauding Dept of Agriculture

    Read more

  • Deadly strike on UN shelter in Gaza Strip

    Read more

  • Wreckage of Algeria plane found in Mali

    Read more

  • Pope meets Christian woman sentenced to death in Sudan

    Read more

Sport

Musical extravaganza closes Olympic Games

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2012-08-13

The Olympic Games came to a close Sunday in London with an extravaganza featuring British popular culture. The US topped the final medal table followed by China and Great Britain, which has passed the Olympic flag to Brazil, hosts of the 2016 Games.

REUTERS - London bade a flamboyant and madcap farewell to the Olympic Games with a romp through British pop and fashion, bringing the curtain down on more than two weeks of action that ended with America topping the sporting world with 46 gold medals.

There was another sellout crowd at the 80,000-capacity athletics stadium in east London late on Sunday for the final act of the tournament, and 300 million people were expected to tune in on televisions around the world.

Actor Timothy Spall read from Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” dressed as war-time Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and after a London “rush hour” featuring real cars and trucks, Prince Harry entered to represent his grandmother Queen Elizabeth.

The Spice Girls, Take That and George Michael were among the acts taking part in an exuberant finale that sought to sum up Britain’s enthusiasm for the Games despite reservations about the 9 billion pound ($14 billion) cost.

'A TRULY MAGICAL CELEBRATION'

During a special eight-minute segment, the stadium was bathed in the colours and sounds of Brazil, as the Olympics looked ahead to 2016 when Rio de Janeiro is the host city.

But on Sunday and into the early hours of Monday it was time for London to say goodbye, and comedian Stephen Fry summed up the mood of many when he took to Twitter and wrote: “I don’t
want it to end.”

The circus-style ceremony was set to a British soundtrack of the last 50 years, featuring classic songs by Queen, the Kinks, the Beatles, Pink Floyd and more, and specially designed “pixel boxes” on every seat provided a spectacular light show.

It was always going to be a celebration for those in the stadium, rather than the showcase of the opening ceremony that featured a movie cameo by the queen and was a tribute to British history, culture and society in a message to the world.

Next generation

The Who had the final word with “My Generation”, an echo of the London 2012 motto which was “Inspire a Generation” as organisers and the government strive to ensure a lasting legacy that goes beyond expensive white elephants and unpaid bills.

Fulfilling promises of a “cheeky” and “cheesy” close, Eric Idle of Monty Python sang “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life”, there was a giant inflatable octopus and a real-life human cannon ball flew through the air.

The Olympic flag was handed to Eduardo Paes, Rio’s mayor, before International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge described the London Games as “happy and glorious” and declared them closed -- the words taken from Britain’s national anthem to the queen.

The Olympic Flame was extinguished, fireworks filled the sky, the athletes walked off and Britain prepared to return to the reality of an economic recession temporarily buried in the inside pages of the newspapers.

The main stadium was the setting for some of the most spectacular moments of the Games, including Jamaican sprint king Usain Bolt defending the 100, 200 and 4x100 metres titles he won in Beijing, the latter in a world-beating time.

British supporters will also cherish memories of the venue, where Somali-born runner Mo Farah won the 5,000 and 10,000 double to deafening roars and was celebrated as a symbol of the capital’s multi-culturalism.

The hosts won 29 golds to take third place in the rankings, their best result for 104 years, helping lift a nation beset by severe spending cuts and worried about social stability a year after violent riots swept parts of the capital.

'RIO GAMES COMING TO TOWN A LITTLE TOO EARLY'
U.S. President Barack Obama called British Prime Minister David Cameron to congratulate the country on what he called “an extremely successful Olympic games, which speaks to the character and spirit of our close ally”.

Phenomenal Phelps

Many will remember London 2012 for the record-breaking exploits of American swimmer Michael Phelps, who took his life-time medal haul to 22 including 18 golds, making him the most decorated Olympian in history.

His tally helped the United States to the top of the Olympic table with 46 golds to second-placed China’s 38, reversing the order of the Beijing Games in 2008.

There was, of course, Bolt, the biggest name in athletics and a charismatic ambassador for sprinting.

After winning the 4x100 he went on to a London nightclub to delight dancing fans with a turn as a DJ, shouting out "I am a legend" to the packed dancefloor.

Britons may recall Andy Murray demolishing world number one Roger Federer at Wimbledon to win the men’s singles tennis gold, while Jessica Ennis, the “poster girl” of the Games, won the women’s heptathlon on the first “super Saturday”.

Despite concerns about the creaky transport system and a shortfall of private security guards, which forced the government to call in thousands of extra troops to help screen visitors, the Games passed by fairly trouble-free.

A furore over empty seats at several Olympic venues blew over, especially once the track and field showcase kicked in and drew capacity crowds for virtually every session.

Even the weather improved as the Games wore on. Bright sunshine graced the closing weekend of a festival that has helped to lift spirits in Britain.

Triumph, trauma


It was not all about triumph, however. Many tears shed by athletes and the public were of sorrow, not joy, as medals were narrowly missed and controversial decisions left athletes convinced they were wronged.

At the closing ceremony, a highlights video reel included images of South Korea’s Shin A Lam alone and distraught on the fencing piste after a timekeeping error contributed to her defeat in an epee semi-final.

China’s hero Liu Xiang suffered heartache again after crashing into the first barrier of the 110 sprint hurdles four years after he withdrew from the heats in Beijing due to injury.

Eight Asian badminton players were controversially expelled from the Games after not trying hard enough to win matches, having broken the spirit, but not the rules of their sport.

And China bowed out of the Games with a swipe at the critics who accused teenage swimming sensation Ye Shiwen of doping after her times rivalled the top U.S. men.

Aged just 16, Ye set a world record, a Games record and won two gold medals in the women’s individual medleys, but her victories were overshadowed by questions and insinuations of cheating. There was no evidence that she had broken any rules.

The head of the Chinese delegation to London, Liu Peng, said the accusations were totally unfounded.

“This is really unfair. This is groundless," Liu told a news conference on Sunday. "There are individuals and media that are accusing, unfounded, our Chinese athletes."

 

Date created : 2012-08-13

  • OLYMPIC GAMES 2012

    US edge out Spain in men’s basketball final

    Read more

  • OLYMPIC GAMES 2012

    Defending Olympic champions France take handball gold

    Read more

  • OLYMPIC GAMES 2012

    Uganda's Kiprotich strikes gold in Olympic marathon

    Read more

COMMENT(S)