The official Olympic flag has arrived in the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro, the host city of 2016 Games.
Rio Mayor Eduardo Paes waved the flag after stepping off the plane with other officials and Brazilian athletes who competed in London.
The flag was handed to Eduardo Paes on Sunday in London before the flame at the Olympic Stadium was extinguished.
The move marks the official start of Rio’s preparations for the 2016 Games.
Arriving on Monday with the flag, Eduardo Paes was accompanied by Carlos Arthur Nuzman, president of the 2016 Games Organising Committee, Rio Governor Sergio Cabral, and the country’s team of athletes.
The official Olympic flag has arrived in the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro, the host city of 2016 Games
Brazil finished 22nd in London 2012, winning 17 medals, two more than its previous best in Beijing.
Rio de Janeiro will be the first South American city to host the Olympics. The city has yet to construct the Olympic Park and other venues, and many have expressed concern about how much work there is to do ahead of the event.
During a visit in June, members of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) said that timelines were “already very tight” and that “the amount of work to be completed is considerable”.
Worries about Olympic readiness are not new, but that not since Athens have there been so many questions about a host’s ability to stage the Olympics.
The transport system in Rio already struggles to serve its six million people.
But Eduardo Paes has promised to transform the city’s infrastructure, and the government says all of the Olympic venues will be finished a year before the games start.
They will be helped by the fact that they have something of a dress rehearsal, when the World Cup arrives in Brazil in 2014.
As the delegation touched down, a group of demonstrators were gathered outside the airport in Rio to protest against planned evictions connected to the Olympics planning, according to the Associated Press.
The London Olympics were brought to a close on Sunday night with a spectacular musical ceremony, featuring some of the biggest names of British pop, including the Spice Girls, George Michael and Elbow.
In a separate development on Monday, a female athlete from Belarus was stripped of her gold medal in the London Olympics after failing two drugs tests.
The shot putter, Nadzeya Ostapchuk, was the first athlete to lose a medal in the 2012 Games due to doping.
An era of unprecedented sporting domination came to an end at the London Olympics today, with a stunning victory for Michael Phelps in his last competitive race.
Swimming the butterfly leg of the 4X100 medley relay, Michael Phelps, 27, displayed his characteristic power to close down the leading Japanese team and claim a record 18th gold medal and pull clear as the most successful Olympian of all time.
Cheered on by an appreciative crowd at the London Olympic Park Acquatic Centre, the U.S team romped home and Michael Phelps punched the sky with delight as he pulled down the curtain on his stunning career competing in the pool.
It was almost unthinkable for the Phelps era to end with anything less than a performance that puts him atop the podium one last time, with yet another gold medal around his neck, his 22 in all.
An era of unprecedented sporting domination came to an end at the London Olympics today, with a stunning victory for Michael Phelps in his last competitive race
Michael Phelps picked up his 17th gold on Friday in his final individual race, the 100-meter butterfly, making the turn in seventh but rallying for a victory that was actually much more comfortable than his margin in the last two Olympics – a combined five-hundredths of a second.
He slammed the wall in 51.21 seconds for payback against the guy who edged him in the 200 fly, Chad le Clos of South Africa. No gliding into this finish, the move that cost Michael Phelps the gold in their first meeting.
“Once I’m done, I think there’s going to be a lot more emotion that really comes out.”
Don’t fret about American swimming after he’s gone. Led by a pair of high schoolers, the post-Phelps era will be in very good hands.
In what amounted to a symbolic changing of the guard, Michael Phelps’ victory in the 100 fly was sandwiched between 17-year-old Missy Franklin breaking a world record in the backstroke and 15-year-old Katie Ledecky taking down a hallowed American mark that was set nearly eight years before she was born.
“This has sort of turned into the youth Olympics,” Missy Franklin said.
“There’s so many members of the team that are coming up this year that are going to carry on this incredible generation.”
No one is more incredible than Michael Phelps.
It always takes him a while to get up to speed, but he brought it home like a champion. That, in a sense, sums up his Olympics farewell.
He got off to a sluggish start but has three victories in the past four days, giving him 21 medals overall.
“He has made a world of difference for swimming,” said Missy Franklin, who captured her third gold of the London Games.
“It’s helped people rethink the impossible.”
In Michael Phelps’ victory, Chad le Clos tied with Russia’s Evgeny Korotyshkin for the silver in 51.44. Milorad Cavic, who lost to Phelps by one-hundredth of a second in Beijing, tied for fourth in 51.81, not even close in their final meeting.
“I cannot be compared to Michael Phelps,” said Milorad Cavic, who also plans to retire after the London Games.
US champion Serena Williams couldn’t hide her glee after storming to Olympic victory against Russia’s Maria Sharapova and celebrated with a crip walk.
After routing Maria Sharapova 6-0, 6-1, Serena Williams showed off some impressive dancing skills on Wimbledon’s grass centre court.
“I don’t think I’ve ever danced like that,” Serena Williams said.
“I don’t even know where the dance came from.”
However, Serena Williams certainly had plenty to dance about – today’s medal was her first Olympic gold in a singles match and means she has achieved a career Golden Slam.
Serena Williams defeated Maria Sharapova easily and finished off the match by serving two aces. She jumped for joy before performing her little victory dance as her sister, Venus Williams, watched on grinning.
“I didn’t think it could get better than winning Wimbledon,” Serena Williams said as she came off the court.
Serena Williams wins first singles Olympic gold after beating Maria Sharapova
In an incredible display of prowess, Serena Williams served three aces in the opening game, broke Maria Sharapova’s serve in the second game before racing on to win the match.
Serena Williams, the fourth seed, beat the third-seeded Russian on the same Centre Court where she took home her fifth Wimbledon championship last month.
Since losing to a 17-year-old Maria Sharapova at the 2004 Wimbledon final, 30-year-old Serena Williams has now beaten Sharapova eight consecutive times.
Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova have won all four Grand Slam titles during their careers but both were going for their first Olympic gold in singles today.
Serena Williams is scheduled to play a doubles semifinal match with her sister Venus on Saturday. The two won Olympic doubles gold in 2000 and 2008.
“Whether I win or lose, that’s not the big deal,” Serena Williams said before today’s game. She defeated world No. 1 Victoria Azarenka of Belarus 6-1, 6-2 on Friday.
“The big deal for me, USA is guaranteed another medal. I’m guaranteed to just go out there tomorrow and have fun. That’s all I can do.”
Roger Federer, who has won 17 majors, also has a chance at a career Golden Slam when he plays for the gold against Andy Murray on Sunday. He beat Juan Martin del Potro in the longest best-of-three set match of the Open era, at 4 hours, 26 minutes, while Murray ousted Novak Djokovic.
“Roger, me and Maria. The odds are good,” Serena Williams said about the opportunities to get a career Golden Slam. Andre Agassi and Rafael Nadal, who withdrew from the London Olympics because of a knee injury, won all four Grand Slam titles as well as Olympic gold in different years.
Queen Elizabeth II has declared the London Olympics officially open, before seven young athletes were given the honor of lighting the ceremonial flame.
The show featured British celebrities and sportspeople, including David Beckham and Bradley Wiggins, and screen characters Mr. Bean and James Bond.
In a speech watched around the world, Games chief Jacques Rogge said: “The Olympic Games are coming home tonight.”
Flag-bearer Sir Chris Hoy earlier led out Team GB to cheers and applause.
The identity of who was to light the symbolic flame was shrouded in secrecy ahead of the ceremony.
The group of seven, chosen by British Olympic champions, each lit a single tiny flame on the ground, igniting 205 petals, one for each competing nation or territory.
Long stems then rose towards each other to form a cauldron, signifying unity.
The flame made a dramatic arrival via the Thames on a speedboat carrying Beckham, who handed the torch to Sir Steve Redgrave.
The show, billed as a quirky take on UK life, started with iconic images of London and Britain being beamed to the world, and all four countries of the UK being represented in song.
Queen Elizabeth II has declared the London Olympics officially open, before seven young athletes were given the honor of lighting the ceremonial flame
The field at the stadium in Stratford, east London, was turned into a green meadow, with sheep, horses, chickens, ducks and geese among the cast.
The show took the watching world through “great revolutions in British society”, from an agricultural setting through to the Industrial Revolution itself.
Steelworkers began forging material that transformed into golden Olympic rings, which appeared to float into the air to be suspended above the performers.
There were cheers too as the crowd saw a film featuring an unlikely meeting between the Queen and agent 007 James Bond.
“Good evening Mr. Bond,” the Queen said in the clip, before they left together, apparently heading towards the Olympic Stadium in a helicopter.
The aircraft then flew over the stadium to the sound of the Bond theme tune, as two figures parachuted down, one dressed as the monarch.
As if by magic, the Queen appeared in the stands – part of a crowd of about 80,000 – amid cheers.
James Bond was not the only much-loved British character to take part. Mr. Bean prompted laughter when he appeared as part of the orchestra playing the Chariots of Fire theme.
The ceremony also celebrated the National Health Service by featuring a cast of more than 1,000 volunteers recruited from hospitals across the country, including Great Ormond Street children’s hospital in London.
All the action was played out to a soundtrack of some of Britain’s most iconic bands – including the Clash, the Rolling Stones, Queen, the Sex Pistols and David Bowie – with Sir Paul McCartney performing live at the show’s close.
The athletes taking part in the Games – led by Greece, the Olympics’ spiritual home – made laps of the stadium bearing their nations’ flags.
A Red Arrows fly-past marked the start of the pre-show at the symbolic time of 20:12 BST.
And Bradley Wiggins, wearing a yellow jersey, rang the world’s largest harmonically-tuned bell to launch the opening ceremony.
As the “Isles of Wonder” show began, artistic director Danny Boyle pledged a ceremony with a theme of “this is for everyone”.
The Oscar-winning film director later tweeted: “Thank you, everyone, for your kind words! Means the world to me.”
Earlier, crowds of people, many of them dressed in their nation’s colours, streamed into the Olympic Park for the show.
Transport ran smoothly and the crowds moved quickly through security.
The day of celebration began at 08:12 BST with a mass bell ringing. Big Ben rang for three minutes for the first time since King George VI’s funeral in 1952.
The three-and-a-half hour show was rehearsed more than 200 times, with each of the 7,500 volunteers spending on average 150 hours practicing during the build-up.
The event used 12,956 props and boasted a million-watt PA system using more than 500 speakers.
Thousands of fans also gathered at other outdoor locations across the capital to watch the show on big screens.
London Olympics opening ceremony is just hours away after seven years of preparations.
The three-hour spectacle in the Olympic Stadium will be viewed by a global TV audience of around one billion people.
The day of celebration began at 08:12 BST with a mass bell ringing. Big Ben rang for three minutes for the first time since King George VI’s funeral.
Lord’s cricket ground has turned away spectators trying to get in to watch archery amid confusion over ticketing.
The London 2012 website advertised the event’s preliminary rounds as “unticketed”, which some members of the public interpreted as open to the public.
But Olympic organizer LOCOG said it had not advertised or sold tickets for the ranking event and had always made it clear preliminary rounds were not open to spectators.
London Olympics opening ceremony is just hours away after seven years of preparations
South Korea later claimed the first two world records of London 2012 in the men’s team and individual archery.
Meanwhile, the Olympic flame has arrived at City Hall on the Queen’s rowbarge Gloriana after first weaving through the maze at Hampton Court Palace and being carried down the Thames on the final day of the torch relay.
Around 50 boats took part in the flotilla, each reflecting London’s waterborne heritage.
The flame’s 70-day nationwide journey ends with the lighting of the cauldron during this evening’s opening ceremony but the identity of the person who will take on the honor remains a mystery.
Five-times rowing gold medallist Sir Steve Redgrave and two-times decathlon champion Daley Thompson will take part in the closing stages, although neither is expected to light the flame.
The ceremony is expected to remain dry, but weather forecasters say the jet stream is moving southwards and there will be a return to more unsettled and chillier conditions over the next few days.
There have not been any reports of major transport issues. Network Rail and the Association of Train Operating Companies said most services were running to schedule. Some roads in London were congested around the route of the Olympic torch relay, and in St. John’s Wood where the archery competition began at Lord’s cricket ground.
Prime Minister David Cameron said: “It’s a great opportunity to show the world the best of Britain, a country that’s got an incredibly rich past but also a very exciting future.
“Someone asked me yesterday what face of Britain do we want to put forward – is it Blur or the Beefeaters? – and frankly it’s both.”
Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: “What’s so amazing is just the wave of excitement seems to pass from person to person like some benign form of contagion. Everybody is getting it.”
Danny Boyle, the artistic director of the £27 million ($43 million) opening ceremony, dedicated it to the 15,000 volunteers taking part.
“This is a live performance and it’s the actors, and in our case they’re volunteers, who have to get up there and do it.”
Europe’s largest bell will ring inside the Olympic Stadium at 21:00 BST at the start of the extravaganza, said to be a quirky take on British life.
Some 15,000 sq m of staging and 12,956 props will be used, and the event will boast a million-watt PA system using more than 500 speakers.
The crowd of about 80,000 will include the Queen and a host of dignitaries and celebrities.
Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip will host a Buckingham Palace reception for heads of state and government and an opening ceremony celebration concert featuring Snow Patrol, Stereophonics, Duran Duran and Paolo Nutini will be held in Hyde Park.
More than 10,000 athletes from 204 nations will take part in the London Olympics, which has taken £9 billion ($14 billion) of public money to stage.
In other developments:
• Ticketing delays at St James’ Park in Newcastle, which meant some fans missed a men’s football match on Thursday, were unacceptable, a senior 2012 official has said
• Three people due to work as staff at an Olympic venue in Newcastle were arrested on Wednesday on suspicion of immigration offences following accreditation checks
• Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt narrowly avoided hitting a group of women with a handbell after it flew off the handle on HMS Belfast during the co-ordinated ringing – he called the moment a “classic”
• American First Lady Michelle Obama, who is in London to lead the US delegation, told the US Olympic team at their Docklands training camp “have fun, breathe a bit, but also win”
• International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge praised the regeneration which has taken place in east London and said the Games would have a “tangible legacy” with, uniquely, “no white elephants”
• London taxis staged a protest at Hyde Park Corner over Olympic traffic lanes. The protest was moved forward by three hours after police said they could not demonstrate on the Olympic Route Network from 16:00 to 03:00 BST.
Thousands of UK border staff (Home Office) will strike the day before London Olympics open, the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union has said.
PCS members will strike for 24 hours next Thursday – when many thousands of visitors are due to arrive in the UK.
Home Secretary Theresa May said the action was “shameful” as it threatens disruption to people travelling to London for the Games.
Immigration minister Damian Green said contingency plans were in place.
East Midlands Trains staff has also voted to strike during the Olympics.
PCS union members will take other forms of action from July 27 to August 20, including working-to-rule and an overtime ban.
The PCS said 57.2% of those who voted backed strike action – the turnout was 20%.
The action will involve staff across the Home Office, including the UK Border Agency, the Identity and Passport Service and Criminal Records Bureau.
Thousands of UK border staff will strike the day before London Olympics open
PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “I think the government is whipping up hysteria about the Olympics, there’ll be no disruption to the Olympics, this is a 24-hour strike before the Olympics actually takes place.”
He said he was prepared to meet the culture secretary and home secretary any time in the next week to avert a strike but if they kept their “heads in the sand” the strike would continue.
London Mayor Boris Johnson has said he does not think the union will succeed in disrupting the Olympics and the majority of PCS members want to put on a great Games.
In other developments as the UK prepares for the start of the Olympics on Friday 27 July:
• An additional 1,200 troops have been put on standby to provide security at Olympic sites following G4S’s problems deploying enough staff
• The Duchess of Cambridge has met the London 2012 Olympic torch relay’s oldest bearer at the opening of a new exhibition in London
• Olympic medallist Steve Backley and artist Tracey Emin are among those carrying the Olympic torch as it travels from Deal to Maidstone, in Kent
• Great Britain’s women’s basketball team are beaten 88-63 by USA despite a spirited performance in a Games preparation match in Manchester
• Drivers on East Midlands Trains will strike from 6-8 August, union Aslef says, threatening disruption to spectators travelling to the Games
• Certain ministers, including the prime minister, chancellor, culture secretary and foreign secretary will be allowed to use the priority car lanes
Immigration minister Damian Green said: “If this strike goes ahead it will be a selfish and irresponsible act by the union leadership, they have got no authority for this, only about a fifth of the membership voted in the ballot, and of that small minority only just over half want to go on strike.”
Damian Green said he was confident disruption at immigration desks could be minimized because extra staff from the Home Office and other departments had been trained to provide cover.
Theresa May condemned the action saying: “I think that is shameful, frankly. They are holding a strike on what is one of the key days for people coming in for the Olympic Games.
“We will of course put contingency arrangements in place to ensure we can deal with people coming through the border as smoothly as possible.”
John Cridland, director general of the Confederation of British Industries, said: “For PCS to go on strike on this key day beggars belief. For it to happen because of a vote by 11% of staff is simply outrageous.”
But Labour MP John McDonnell, who chairs the PCS Parliamentary Group, said: “The government has brought this dispute on its own head.”
East Midlands Trains drivers from the union Aslef plan to strike on 6-8 August in a row over pensions. But South West Trains staff has voted not to strike over the Olympics.
Prime Minister David Cameron insisted the Olympics would be safe and secure.
Speaking at a press conference in Afghanistan, he said: “I do not believe it will be right, I do not believe it will be justified.”
Labour leader Ed Miliband also condemned the strike.
The PCS is in dispute with the Home Office on plans to cut 8,500 jobs and the threat of compulsory redundancies in the passport office in Newport, South Wales.
There are also disagreements over pay rises capped at 1% following a two-year wage freeze, privatization of services, and alleged victimization of union reps.
This week the National Audit Office said the UK Border Agency had laid off 1,000 more staff than intended and was having to hire extra people and increase overtime to meet its workload.
The PCS is one of the largest unions in the UK with around 250,000 public sector members.
PCS members at the Department for Transport have been taking industrial action over the past few weeks, while staff in other departments, including the ministries of defence and justice, are set to vote shortly on how to campaign against cuts.
A new scandal has broken after the news the US athletes at the forthcoming London Olympics will wear stylish uniforms designed in the US – but made in China.
The news prompted a rare outbreak of bipartisan agreement, with Republican and Democratic leaders highly critical of the US Olympic Committee.
“I think the Olympic committee should be ashamed of themselves,” Senate majority leader Harry Reid said.
The outfits – which cost close to $2,000 – were designed by US label Ralph Lauren.
“The classic navy blue blazers, white trousers and skirts, and red-accented ties and berets may have a distinctly American look, but the label inside reads “Made in China”, ABC News revealed.
The classic US Olympic uniform may have a distinctly American look, but the label inside reads Made in China
That left a sour taste in the mouths of the nation’s top lawmakers when they were asked about the affair on Thursday.
House of Representatives minority leader Nancy Pelosi stressed the entire nation was behind its Olympic athletes.
“We take such pride and they work so hard. They represent the very best and they’re so excellent, it’s all so beautiful,” the California Democrat said.
“And they should be wearing uniforms made in America.”
Republican House Speaker John Boehner kept his comments brief.
“You’d think they’d know better,” he said of the US Olympic Committee.
But the strongest remarks came from Harry Reid, the senior Democratic senator from Nevada – a state hard-hit by the lingering economic downturn and which has seen high levels of unemployment since the time of the last Olympics, held in China’s capital, Beijing.
“I am so upset. I think the Olympic committee should be ashamed of themselves,” he said.
“I think they should take all the uniforms, put them in a big pile and burn them. And start all over again,” the Los Angeles Times quoted him as saying.
“I hope they wear nothing but a single that says <<USA>> on it painted by hand. We have people in America working in the textile industry who are desperate for jobs,” he concluded.
In a statement, the US Olympic Committee said Team USA was privately funded and sponsored.
“We’re proud of our partnership with Ralph Lauren, an iconic American company,” the committee added.
The US Olympic uniforms cost $1,945 for men and $1,473 for women, Ralph Lauren said.
Although this is not the first time Ralph Lauren has designed US Olympic garb, lawmakers said the Chinese involvement had a symbolic impact, as the US anxiously searches for clues of renewed economic competitiveness.
“Today there are 600,000 vacant manufacturing jobs in this country and the Olympic committee is outsourcing the manufacturing of uniforms to China?” said Steve Israel, a House Democrat.
“That is not just outrageous, it’s just plain dumb. It is self-defeating.”