- 01 Jun 2014
- Olympic News
The Closing Ceremonies of the Olympic Games
Ever since the Melbourne Games of 1956, one essential element of Olympic Games' closing ceremonies has been the gathering of all athletes in the middle of the stadium – a symbolic coming together as “one nation” in a contagious party-like atmosphere.
The medals from the very last event on the schedule – generally the marathon at the Summer Games, or the 30km and 50km cross-country skiing in winter time – are bestowed upon the relevant winners.
At this point, Olympians who have been newly elected by their peers to the IOC Athletes’ Commission come forward to present a bouquet of flowers to representatives from the contingent of volunteers, to thank them for their invaluable work during the Games.
To the sounds of the Olympic hymn, the Olympic flag is lowered and carried by the mayor of the host city to the IOC President, who in turn passes it on to the mayor of the city that is due to stage the next Games in four years’ time. That will signal an entertaining display designed to introduce the next host city. The IOC President and Local Organising Committee deliver concluding speeches, after which the Olympic Flame is finally extinguished.
The Games are then brought to a close with a giant party, as the athletes are given the chance to let their hair down at a concert held against a backdrop of fizzing pyrotechnics.
Rio 2016 Closing Ceremony
Watch the full Rio 2016 Closing Ceremony here
In a style befitting the carnival traditions of the host city, the Rio 2016 Closing Ceremony opened in a blaze of colour and a musical backdrop of samba sounds, as dancers twisted and turned to form the outlines of a series of iconic Rio monuments and landmarks, culminating in a multi-coloured depiction of the Olympic rings.
A film entitled “Warming up Tokyo 2020” then took us on a sporting and cultural excursion around the next host city, featuring various Japanese sporting icons, and culminating with a surprise appearance from the country’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe, who, running late to get from Tokyo to Rio, morphs into popular video game character ‘Super Mario’ and is then seen tunnelling between the two cities. In a genius twist, the Prime Minister Abe actually then surfaced in the middle of the stage at the Maracana, in real life, prompting gasps around the stadium.
Popular Brazilian singer Mariene de Castro performed a ballad at the foot of the Olympic cauldron as tropical rains extinguished the flame. Then, in an echo of the Opening Ceremony, a Pau Brasil tree, the national tree which gave the country its name rose majestically up from the centre of the stage. That was the signal for a burst of fireworks to illuminate the entire stadium. A samba band then upped the tempo, hammering out Rio’s very own anthem, “A Marvellous City”, as the Closing Ceremony was transformed into a Carnival-style celebration. It was a fitting tribute to what had been a carnival of sport and a marvellous Olympic Games.
Sochi 2014 Closing Ceremony
Watch the full Sochi 2014 Closing Ceremony here
The Sochi 2014 Closing Ceremony on 23 February featured yet more spectacular displays, music from revered Russian composers and a dose of self-deprecating humour.
Two weeks before, during the Opening Ceremony, a technical malfunction had prevented the fifth Olympic ring from opening; performers reproduced the incident during the Closing Ceremony, the difference being that this time the ring in question expanded properly, much to the amusement of the watching public.
Following speeches from Local Organising Committee chief Dmitri Chernyshenko and IOC President Thomas Bach, the three giant mascots, the snow leopard (on a snowboard), the rabbit (on skis) and the bear (on ice skates) entered the stadium and gathered around the Olympic flame. The bear proceeded to blow it out, shedding a tear while doing so. The stadium was then transformed into a gigantic nightclub, as DJ Kto hosted a lively after-party with fireworks exploding overhead.
London 2012 Closing Ceremony
Watch the full London 2012 Closing Ceremony here
On a stage depicting the Union Flag, the Closing Ceremony of the London Games was centred on “A Symphony of British Music”, featuring musical artists spanning several decades, from John Lennon to the Spice Girls.
London Mayor Boris Johnson handed the Olympic flag to IOC President Jacques Rogge, who then passed it on to Eduardo Paes, the Mayor of Rio de Janeiro, where the Summer Games will be held in 2016.
The festivities were brought to a close by English rock band The Who, who performed a medley of their greatest hits while the athletes danced enthusiastically in the centre of the stage.
Vancouver 2010 Closing Ceremony
Watch the full Vancouver 2010 Closing Ceremony here
Spectators who filled the BC Place Stadium for the Vancouver Games’ Closing Ceremony were provided with foam moose antlers, which they were encouraged to wear. This set the tone for a festive and entertaining evening, during which a range of Canadian stereotypes and clichés were given a satirical treatment, while its people, who, according to Local Organising Committee President John Furlong, had “never been prouder” of their country due to the success of the Games and their athletes, were celebrated. The show was not without its stirring moments either, such as the appearance of legendary Canadian singer-songwriter Neil Young, who delivered an emotional performance of “Long May You Run”.
After a presentation on Sochi 2014 in which zorbing enthusiasts rolled around stylised versions of the Caucasus Mountains, IOC President Jacques Rogge brought what he described as the “excellent and extremely welcoming” Vancouver Games to a close. Various Canadian singers and groups then took to the two stages at opposite ends of the arena, while the Olympic athletes partied the night away.
Beijing 2008 Closing Ceremony
In contrast with the Opening Ceremony, the show that brought the curtain down on the Beijing Games two weeks later was light, full of joy and amusing. The spectacular highlights included translucent artists perched on stilts and cycling on illuminated mono-wheels, and a giant human pillar.
The sequence introducing the 2012 Games featured images that embodied the United Kingdom, such as a red double-decker London bus that entered the stadium, did a lap and dropped off David Beckham - who kicked a football into the crowd - and rock icon Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin) - who sang “Whole Lotta Love” in a duet with Leona Lewis -while umbrella-wielding extras danced in front of the bus.
The flame was extinguished, prior to an immense fireworks display setting the night sky above the stadium ablaze, as athletes bid “zaidjan” (goodbye) to Beijing.