London bids farewell, U.S. top of the world
By Mike Collett-White and Belinda Goldsmith
LONDON (Reuters) - London bade farewell to the Olympic Games on Sunday with a high-octane romp through British pop music, bringing the curtain down on more than two weeks of action at the end of which the United States topped the sporting world with 46 gold medals.
There was another sellout crowd at the 80,000-capacity athletics stadium in East London for the final act of the tournament, and another 300 million people were expected to tune in on television sets around the world.
Actor Timothy Spall read from Shakespeare's "The Tempest" dressed as war-time Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and after a London "rush hour" featuring real cars and trucks, Prince Harry entered to represent his grandmother Queen Elizabeth.
Boy band One Direction, the Pet Shop Boys and Madness were among the early acts in an exuberant finale that sought to sum up Britain's enthusiasm for the Games despite earlier reservations about the 9 billion pound ($14 billion) cost.
In the centre of the stage, reconstructions of famous London landmarks such as St Paul's Cathedral and Tower Bridge provided the backdrop for a "street party", recalling nationwide celebrations this summer marking the queen's Diamond Jubilee.
They were then removed to allow thousands of athletes to enter to the strains of Elbow before the music took off with hit after hit accompanied by a spectacular light show created by innovative "pixel boxes" installed on each seat.
The Spice Girls and The Who were also expected to perform, and, after a section devoted to the 2016 Olympic hosts Rio de Janeiro there will be closing speeches and the Olympic Flame is extinguished.
LIGHTNING STRUCK THRICE Continued...