Pop stars, choirs, dancing policemen and a boisterous singalong to "We Are The Champions." After the orderly precision of the Beijing Olympics, it was time yesterday for a first look at what organizers hope will be the fun of London 2012.
London Eight-Minute Performance at the closing ceremony of Beijing Olympic Games at the Bird's Nest on August 24. (Xinhua)
About 40,000 flag-waving people gathered in front of Buckingham Palace for a party to celebrate the handover from Beijing as the British capital got its first chance to show what it hopes will be a quirky, personal and fun approach to the Games.
As music played from a huge stage erected next to the ornate gates of the queen's official London residence, even the police indulged in a brief embarrassed dance when invited to by the master of ceremonies.
Admittedly, the spectacle was short of the scale and coordination that has wowed athletes, officials and fans alike in Beijing over the past two weeks. But in terms of conveying what London has to offer to visitors when the Olympics arrives in town, the show did its job.
"Every city has had its big twist on the Games, what they have that's different to every other county," said swim star Michael Phelps, who was in London. "The Olympic movement is about bringing the world together. I'm not sure what that difference will be but I'm looking forward to seeing what it is and how this city develops."
London Mayor Boris Johnson said from Beijing: "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. Sport is coming home."
While big screens around the country showed Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page and football star David Beckham live at the closing ceremony in Beijing's Bird's Nest, less internationally recognized names such as operatic quartet Il Divo, boyband McFly and Will Young ¡ª the first winner of Britain's Pop Idol TV show ¡ª took to the stage in central London.
Organizers have promised to hold a more relaxed Olympics, which was already on display in Beijing when Johnson was unable to contain his excitement as he prepared to receive the Olympic flag from IOC President Jacques Rogge. After saluting the crowd as he strode out to the center of the stadium, Johnson stood clenching and unclenching his fists in a "give-it-to-me" gesture.
The London crowd laughed appreciatively at the mayor. "The next Summer Games return to a country which I frequently boast has either invented or codified just about every major world sport," Johnson said.
But some of the biggest cheers from the London crowd didn't have anything to do with what was unfolding in their own Olympic city.
They were reserved for Beckham's appearance in Beijing.
Editor: canton fair