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London 2012 Unveil UK Handover Celebrations

London 2012 today unveiled its plans for celebrating the moment the Olympic Flag is handed over from Beijing to London at the closing ceremony of the Olympic Games on August 24. London 2012 Chairman Sebastian Coe and young Olympic hopeful Tom Daley were joined by Mayor of London Boris Johnson and Olympics Minister Tessa Jowell to unveil a London and UK-wide series of events aimed at celebrating the Games coming to London in 2012.

Highlights of the celebrations include:

  • A free concert – ‘The Visa London 2012 Party’ in London for more than 40,000 people which will be broadcast live on BBC One and Radio 2;
  • Big screens across the country which will carry Games time action and the closing ceremony of the Beijing Games;
  • Towns and cities all over the UK marking the handover moment with their own celebrations;
  • A special London 2012 flag being offered to every local authority in the UK to join in with the celebrations.

As the Olympic flag is handed over in Beijing, London 2012 will stage an eight-minute performance in the Beijing Olympic stadium. The eight-minute segment, which will be watched by around 1.5 billion people worldwide, is London’s opportunity to ‘invite the world’ to London in 2012. Created and staged by LOCOG’s Ceremonies team, the show will reflect London through dance and music. Today it was confirmed that dancers from the Royal Opera House, CanDoCo and Zoo Nation would be taking part in the show in Beijing.

The creative team for the Beijing Show is headed up by London 2012 Director of Culture, Ceremonies and Education, Bill Morris, Head of Ceremonies Martin Green and Creative Director Stephen Powell. Musical Director for the show is Philip Sheppard and Ray Winkler is the Production Designer. Costumes are being designed by Jonathan Bentley.

Meanwhile in London, thousands will gather on The Mall to watch the closing ceremony via giant screens and a free celebration concert, sponsored by Visa. The live stage show will be produced by the BBC and a number of high profile acts will be announced in the coming months. Tickets for the Visa London 2012 Party will be available at 11am today via a free ballot, which opens today via www.london2012.com/tickets.

Around the whole of the UK, cities, towns and communities are planning their own celebrations with a series of events and initiatives happening across all nations and regions. This includes a network of big screens around the UK which will carry live footage and highlights from the Games in Beijing, as well as live coverage of the closing ceremony and Mall concert. There will be eight new permanent screens and there will also be temporary screens ensuring that the closing ceremony from Beijing will be covered in each nation and region.

Each local authority is also being invited to mark the day with the chance to fly a specially designed flag celebrating the Games coming to the UK. Local authorities will be encouraged to invite local sportspeople or community heroes to raise the flag.

London 2012 Chair Sebastian Coe commented: ‘August 24th is the beginning of our four-year journey to host a great Games in a great city – a Games the whole country can be proud of. In the next four years, there will be a whole host of ways for everyone in the country to be part of 2012, and to make the most of the opportunities London 2012 will provide. We want to mark this moment in time – and are creating ways for the UK to come together on this memorable day and celebrate this moment. The eyes of the world will turn towards London on 24 August as the Beijing Games closes and focus turns to the next summer host city. We will be ready to welcome the world.’

Mayor of London Boris Johnson commented: ‘There is less than three months now until I step out into a huge stadium in Beijing and accept the Olympic flag. It will be a proud moment for me. It will also be a great day to party in London. The good news here is that there is generous private sector sponsorship for a wonderful party in central London on the same weekend as the Notting Hill Carnival. So apart from Beijing, it is hard to think of a better place to be.’

Olympics Minister, Rt Hon Tessa Jowell MP commented: ‘The handover of the Olympic flag in August will be a truly historic moment, not just for London, but for the whole of the UK. The eyes of the world will turn to our capital and country as we become the official host of the 2012 Games – an honour we last enjoyed 60 years ago – and which, for most of us, will be a once-in-a-lifetime event.

‘We have a brilliant weekend of celebration planned and I’m really hopeful that everyone will take part in the excitement, be it here in London or through “live sites” and other planned events in cities and towns around the UK. We want people to be inspired and enthused by this unique occasion, and to share in the magic of the Games.’

Visa Europe’s CEO, Peter Ayliffe commented: ‘We’ve been sponsoring the Olympic Games since 1986 and are so proud to be sponsoring this party that kicks off London 2012. It provides a chance for everyone in the UK to get involved in the day, by either coming to the event or watching it on television. For us, London 2012 doesn’t start in 2012, it starts on 24th August.’

For the first time ever, the Paralympic Games Closing Ceremony will also feature many of the same cast when it takes place on Wednesday 17 September, reflecting London 2012’s integrated approach to both the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games. This day will coincide with the launch of the London 2012 Education Programme. As of today, London 2012 is inviting schools and colleges across the country to lead the Paralympic handover celebrations here in the UK. A new online resource has gone live today full of ideas and information to help children and young people get started with planning in-school or college activity.

Full details of how people can enter the ballot for tickets to the Mall concert will be available on www.london2012.com/tickets