BEST OF BRITISH: sport and music join forces to invite world to London in 2012

LONDON 2012Footballer David Beckham, legendary guitarist Jimmy Page, singer Leona Lewis and gold medal winning Team GB cyclists star in spectacular performance.

Beijing, China, (RUSHPRNEWS) 26 August: London 2012 has officially become the Host City of the Summer Olympic Games, marking the moment with a spectacular eight-minute presentation as part of the closing ceremony of the 2008 Games in the National Stadium, Beijing.

Highlights of the show included:

– The appearance of a red London bus in the National stadium, which spectacularly transforms into a stage for the show;
– The handover of a football by a child of the world to a child of London, mirroring the formal handover between the city Mayors;
– The dramatic appearances of singer Leona Lewis and guitarist Jimmy Page on high rising elevators emerging from within the bus performing a specially arranged version of Led Zeppelin classic ‘A Whole Lotta Love’;
– A unique dance collaboration between hip hop dance group Zoo Nation, contemporary dance group CanDoCo and dancers from the Royal Opera House;
– The appearance of football icon, England’s David Beckham, who kicks the football into the crowd of athletes in the stadium – inviting them to the Games in London in 2012.

London’s moment came approximately two thirds of the way through the spectacular Beijing closing ceremony. Members of the UK’s National Youth Theatre sang the British National anthem in the stadium. Arranged by Director of Music Philip Shepherd, they sang a version of the national anthem which is based on a 17th century arrangement and features a seldom used verse which calls “That men should brothers be, And form one family, The wide world o’er”.

As Mayor of London Boris Johnson received the Olympic Flag from IOC President Jacques Rogge, London officially became Host City of the summer Olympic Games. The title sequence of London’s eight-minute performance was then shown on the screens in the stadium and on TV screens across the world, using animation and computer generated graphics to present a modern, vibrant and creative view of the city.

With the title sequence coming to a close, the stage was set and in the stadium appeared a tableau of modern London: a bus queue containing a cross section of London society: from city gent, to schoolgirl. As a world-recognised London bus made its way around the running track, the soundtrack began: a blend of traditional music, ‘Jerusalem’, ‘Greensleeves’ cut into with industrial percussion and scratching.

As the bus reaches its destination, the queue’s dance began with the unique combination of hip-hop, contemporary dance and ballet coming together in a visually stunning performance. A young child, representing the children of the world was led to a bus by a kindly lollipop lady, the buses doors open and she handed the ball to a child on board.

Slowly the bus began its transformation and the roof opened out into petal-shaped sections. The scene inside was predominantly green with lush grass and hedges cut into buildings depicting London’s skyline. The lollipop lady (played by legendary British principal ballerina Deborah Bull – coming out of retirement for this performance) threw off her coat to reveal a glamorous scarlet ball gown with the music transforming into an operatic sounding aria. Rising from what was the bus, Leona Lewis was revealed, singing and the famous guitar riff from ‘Whole Lotta Love’ rang round the stadium as Jimmy Page rose from the bus on a second lift, guitar in hand.

As the dancers continued their energetic accompaniment – a mixture of break dancing, hip hop, contemporary and ballet, Lewis and Page combined to perform a unique version of ‘Whole Lotta Love’, especially arranged for this one-off show. The climax of the eight-minute performance arrived with the appearance of David Beckham, rising from the bus. Kicking the football into the crowd of assembled athletes, this symbolised the invitation to the sportsmen and women to come to London in 2012. The bus departed, now looking more like a carnival float, lit up by dancers holding umbrellas containing LED lights, spelling out London 2012 and showing the flags that make up the union flag.

The show reflected the spirit and vision of London 2012: sport, culture, social change and transformation – which was at the heart of London 2012’s bid to stage the Games.

London 2012 Chairman Sebastian Coe was in ebullient mood, “This is a moment we have waited for since we won the bid and the entire London 2012 team is celebrating along with the UK. The closing ceremony was, as expected, spectacular and a fitting end to an inspiring Games. I thought our eight-minute contribution was executed superbly.

“We will enjoy the moment and celebrate accordingly, but we know we have much to do to plan a fantastic Games. What we have witnessed in Beijing is a truly spectacular Olympic Games and in terms of Team GB, a fantastically successful one. We have a once in a lifetime opportunity to build on this moment. “

Mayor of London Boris Johnson said, “I’m profoundly humbled by the immense privilege I’ve been given today. I’m also intensely proud. Proud of the athletes who pulled in the best medal tally for decades. Proud of the people behind them who’ve delivered this stunning success. And proud beyond all that London is now in charge of the Olympic legacy.

The next Summer Games return to a country which I frequently boast has either invented or codified just about every major world sport. We will draw on that heritage and we will draw on our wit, flair, imagination and ingenuity to build on what we’ve all witnessed in Beijing and deliver a fantabulous Olympics in what I consider to be not only my home, but the home of sport.”

Tessa Jowell, Olympics Minister, said, “The Beijing Games are over and London – and the UK – has received the Olympic flag. Beijing has staged an Olympics with magnificent organisation, spectacle and facilities for the athletes. The Games have in so many ways expressed the character of this fast-changing country.

“Our Games will reflect the soul and personality of London and the UK – through exceptional sportsmen and women, the power of regeneration to transform and a nationwide party to celebrate the optimism and ambition of the country we are. We invite the world to enjoy the welcome we will extend in four years time.”

David Beckham said, “One of the proudest moments of my life was when London was announced as the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games host city in 2012. I’m passionate about the Games coming to my home country and I’m honoured to take part in the Closing Ceremony.”

Leona Lewis said, “I’m very excited that in 2012 my home city will host the next Olympic Games and Paralympic Games. To be asked to represent the UK as part of the Handover at the Beijing Closing Ceremony is such an honour. London is the best city in the world to me and I am so proud to be part of what we have to offer!”

Jimmy Page said, “I am proud to be part of the British Olympic Handover Ceremony. Having met and worked with Leona Lewis in preparation for this event I am incredibly excited about performing with her at the event.”

The closing ceremony of the Olympic Games was beamed from the National Stadium in Beijing to millions back home in the UK, many of whom were watching the show in front of big screens at towns and cities across the country. In London, the show was watched by 40,000 people on The Mall who were gathered for the Visa London 2012 Party, featuring top UK music acts, to celebrate the Games coming to London.

– Ends –

For further information please contact the London 2012 Press Office on +44 (0)203 2012 100 or visit the website at www.london2012.com. Find out the latest from London 2012 HQ on our blog http://blog.london2012.com

Notes to editors:

PLEASE NOTE: Further details and background material on the Handover including performer quotes and background material can found the in the London 2012 Handover Media Guide, available upon in the LOCOG office in the MPC and other media areas.

Further information and developments relating to the Handover will also be posted on the London 2012 website at www.london2012.com.

David Beckham and Leona Lewis both come from east London and have strong personal connections to the area where the new Olympic Park, the centrepiece for the London 2012 Games, will be located. Both are strongly supportive of the London Games project and the power of the Games to change lives, especially in the locally underdeveloped boroughs around the Olympic Park.

The Park – the biggest sports community development in Europe in 150 years – will transform some of the poorest parts of London which surround the Park, providing much needed new community services and facilities, including affordable housing, employment, schools, retail, office and sporting facilities linked to preparations for the Games.

THE LONDON 2012 OLYMPIC GAMES AND PARALYMPIC GAMES
Background Notes

London will bring all it has to offer to the Games in 2012 – the historic and the new. London landmarks like Horse Guards Parade, the new Wembley, Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, Hyde Park, Wimbledon, Lords and others will be used as venues and backdrops for the Games, showcasing sport and athletes in stunning settings that will inspire audiences around the world.

These much loved landmarks will be complemented by the new Olympic Park under construction in east London, which will provide a new era of world class, community based venues and supporting urban infrastructure, generating thousands of new long-term jobs, new affordable housing, green parkland, revitalised river ways and habitats, new low carbon energy systems, schools, retail, new world class transport links, and other much needed and fully accessible community services.

This will create the biggest new sports community park in Europe for 150 years and fast track the regeneration of some of the poorest parts of London, located around the Olympic Park.

The Olympic Park project – the centrepiece of the London 2012 Games – along with other London and UK Games-related programmes, will provide a powerful long-term legacy of community benefits and investment for future generations. This approach, in line with the latest IOC thinking, heralds a new era in community development, social change and increased participation in sport, especially among young people, planned around the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The five permanent new venues in the Olympic Park will leave sustainable new facilities designed around the long-term needs of surrounding neighbourhoods. These venues will play a vital role in our plans to engage more young people in sport for decades to come, along with our International Inspiration initiative, which is providing new opportunities and programmes designed to enrich the lives of children and young people in some of the most disadvantaged communities around the world, through sport and educational development programmes linked to sport.

The programmes are led by the British Government, UK Sport, UNICEF and other organisations, and are based on London 2012’s vision to inspire more young people to take up sport. The benefits from the programmes include helping to develop sports systems; improving school attendance and educational performance; empowering girls and young women to participate in sport and access education; and increasing awareness of health issues.