Thousands of Olympic athletes and spectators have started leaving London after the 2012 Games were brought to a spectacular end last night at the closing ceremony.

The ceremony was an impressive showcase of British music and saw London mayor Boris Johnson officially hand the Games over to Rio, who are the next hosts in 2016.

The Olympic flame was then extinguished, to officially bring an end to one of the most successful and memorable sporting events of recent times.

Amidst all the glitz and glamour, thousands of athletes from the 204 competing nations piled into the Olympic Stadium for one final farewell.

Mr Johnson passed the Olympic flag to Jacques Rogge, president of the International Olympic Committee, before it was handed to Rio mayor Eduardo Paes.
Olympic flame The Olympic flame was extinguished to mark the end of London 2012 (Picture: Getty)

‘I want you to know it was very, very hard just now to hand over that Olympic flag to Jacques Rogge,’ the mayor of London said.

He told the British athletes they were part of the ‘greatest team of athletes this country had ever assembled’, adding: ‘Team GB of 2012, you have achieved fantastically.’

The ceremony, devised by director Kim Gavin featured classic British bands such as Madness, The Who and the Pet Shop Boys, as well as current day artists including One Direction and Tinie Tempah.

The show also featured the Spice Girls, who reunited for the event and percussion group Stomp.

Mr Rogge paid tribute to the thousands of volunteers who have been heavily praised throughout the Games.

‘These were happy and glorious Games,’ he said. ‘We will never forget the smiles, the kindness and the support of the wonderful volunteers, the much-needed heroes of these Games.

‘You, the spectators and the public, provided the soundtrack for these Games. Your enthusiastic cheers energised the competitors and brought a festive spirit to every Olympic venue. You have shown the world the best of British hospitality.’
Spice Girls The Spice Girls reunited to perform at the ceremony (Picture: Getty)

London 2012 chairman Lord Coe said: ‘On the first day of these Games I said we were determined to do it right. I said that these Games would see the best of us. On this last day I can conclude with these words: When our time came, Britain, we did it right. Thank you.’

Heathrow airport has allocated a terminal specifically for departing athletes this week, decked out with iconic London sights and performing acts.