Having witnessed an opening ceremony that included the Industrial Revolution, Mary Poppins, the NHS, Daniel Craig and the Queen in a sketch together, the five Olympic rings being lifted magnificently into the air, Mr Bean, David Beckham driving a speedboat, the Arctic Monkeys and Voldermort (among much, much more), it is no wonder that people are expecting the London 2012 closing ceremony to be just as whacky, dramatic and totally brilliant.
With rumours of a Spice Girls reunion and performances from One Direction and Adele, along with exciting acts like Ed Sheeran with a combination of Pink Floyd members actually confirmed, anticipation for the closing ceremony, titled ‘A Symphony of British Music’, is steadily growing as the Olympic Games progress. If the opening ceremony is anything to go by, Rio de Janeiro’s Olympic committee are going to have very, very big shoes to fill in 2016.
So, in anticipation of August 12th, we decided to go back in time and take a look at the greatest and most significant closing ceremony moments in Olympic history.
The closing ceremony of the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin.
The inspiring Sam Sullivan, Mayor of Vancouver, was unsure whether he could participate in the Olympic closing ceremony tradition of taking the Olympic flag from the current host city and waving it eight times, due to his tetraplegia (a form of paralysis). Amazingly, the Tetra volunteer society made it possible for him by building a special bracket into Sullivan’s wheelchair, which he held while swinging his wheelchair back and forth eight times, allowing the flag to wave. Sullivan practiced this action in secret in the weeks leading up to the Games.
After the closing ceremony was aired, Mayor Sullivan was inundated with fan mail from around the world; from people who, like Sullivan, suffered from a disability, to admirers who were simply moved by what he had achieved. Sullivan, who famously didn’t understand the powerful extent of his action until he saw the heaps of fan mail, was shocked to realise how much he had inspired the closing ceremony audience, claiming that it ‘was a truly humbling experience’.
The closing ceremony of the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney.
Arguably the most significant moment in the pint-size pop-star’s career, Kylie Minogue wowed fans with her rendition of Abba’s Dancing Queen at Sydney’s closing ceremony. A true Australian heroine, her performance was one of the most memorable in closing ceremony history.
The closing ceremony of the 1956 Summer Olympics in Melbourne.
The first boycott of an Olympic Games took place in Melbourne, with many countries pulling out as a protest because of the Suez Crisis and Russia’s invasion of Hungary. Athletes were segregated in the Olympic Village and fighting broke out between Russian and Hungarian players during a water-polo match, while tensions mounted between East and West Germany. Troubles created by the Cold War followed athletes to Australia and it looked like the Olympic Movement might not survive.
John Ian Wing, then a student, made history when he wrote an anoymous letter to the International Olympic Committee, suggesting that the closing ceremony should not be a traditional march with divided nations, but one multicultural, international affair – with athletes from all the participating countries joining together in unity.
The idea was adopted and the closing ceremonies have been this way since 1956. John Ian Wing, who is now retired in London, changed the Olympic Games forever.
The closing ceremony of the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing.
The Beijing closing ceremony was held in the famous Bird’s Nest building. The event made history as it was estimated that between 3-4 billion people globally tuned in to watch – around half of the world’s population.
The closing ceremony of the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta.
Great music was in abundance at this closing ceremony; Cuban singer Gloria Estefan stunned crowds with her electrifying rendition of ‘Reach’, one of the official songs of the 1996 Games and legend Stevie Wonder ended the ceremony with his version of John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’. Faith Hill, Bon Jovi, B. B. King, Whitney Houston and Michael Jackson also participated…most incredible line-up ever?
The closing ceremony of the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin.
The 1936 Berlin Olympic Games was Hilter’s opportunity to show off Germany to the rest of the world. The Nazi administration spent 42 million Reichmarks building an impressive 325-acre Olympics sports complex that could seat 110,000 spectators. It was the first major televised event in history: using three electronic cameras and 24 movie cameras, 162,000 viewers were able to watch the competition in specially designed viewing booths known as Public Television Offices in Berlin and Potsdam.
At the closing ceremony, the president of the IOC stood up and issued the traditional call for the next games in Tokyo. This is a chilling image as we know with hindsight that there were no more Olympic Games until St. Moritz in 1948, a dozen years later, and that Hitler had already started planning World War Two by this point in time.