Spotlight turns to London as Beijing Games end

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The Independent Online

London's reign as Olympic host city began today after mayor Boris Johnson received the Olympic banner to signal the countdown to 2012 has begun.

David Beckham, pop icon Leona Lewis and rock star Jimmy Page began led London's eight-minute slot in the closing ceremony as the Beijing Olympics began as they finished, in a fusion of colour, light, fireworks, music, dance and technology.

After the national anthem sung by the National Youth Theatre, and the official handover, London's chance to impress the world began.

Where Beijing relied on vast numbers of participants, London used fame and popular culture.

It started with a red double decker bus driving around the race-track inside the stadium, pursued by gold medal-winning cyclists Chris Hoy, Victoria Pendleton and Jamie Staff, and being surrounded by dancers when it halted.

A nine-year-old girl from east London, Tayyiba Dudhwala, chosen in a Blue Peter competition, came out of the bus to receive a football from another girl Erika Tham.

Leona Lewis then emerged from the roof on a rising column dressed in gold and singing an R'n'B aria. As the music reached a crescendo and Page came out on a rising stage with a guitar and after a pause, the unmistakable first riffs of 'Whole Lotta Love' blasted out, and Lewis began singing.

Towards the end of the song, David Beckham - to huge cheers from the crowd - appeared on another lift accompanied by Tayyiba, plus a violinist and a cellist from the London Symphony Orchestra dressed in Team GB kit.

He was handed the football and kicked it into the crowd of athletes, many of them from Team GB, in the centre of the field.

Hi-tech umbrellas then covered the bus, forming a screen of images before the bus, transformed into a carnival float, headed out of the stadium.

The effect was what London had hoped achieve - a combination of pop, culture, fashion and sport - the only negative being the sound system in the stadium did not do justice to the song even if to the hundreds of millions watching on television the sound came over perfectly.

Jacques Rogge, the International Olympic Committee president, told the 91,000 people inside the Bird's Nest stadium: "Tonight, we come to the end of 16 glorious days which we will cherish forever.

"Thank you to the people of China.

"New stars were born. Stars from past Games amazed us again. We shared their joys and their tears, and we marvelled at their ability. We will long remember the achievements we witnessed here.

"These were truly exceptional Games.

"And now, in accordance with tradition, I declare the Games of the 29th Olympiad closed, and I call upon the youth of the world to assemble four years from now in London to celebrate the Games of the 30th Olympiad."