9:00pm BBC1, BBC Olympics 1
Sixteen days, that’s all. From early-morning badminton on Day 1 to women’s modern pentathlon this evening, the sporting drama has flown by faster than Bradley Wiggins in a time trial. It might seem only yesterday that the Queen parachuted into east London with James Bond, but now the end is near. The time has come when, like Boris stuck on a zip-wire, we all have to move on. But after the intensity of the past couple of weeks, the athletes, officials and spectators can’t be expected just to push off home and put the kettle on. What they need is a party: time to reflect on what has just passed and to look forward to what is to come.
The Closing Ceremony has its ritualistic aspects: we’ll wipe a tear from our collective eye as the flame in that lovely petalled cauldron is extinguished and the Olympic flag lowered at Stratford. Boris will hand the flag on to a representative of Rio de Janeiro, where the next summer Games will be staged in 2016. With formalities complete, it will be time for the mother of all after-show parties; time, in short, to rock the world.
The general tone of the evening is informal. This is exemplified by the athletes circling the stadium unsegregated by nationality, in contrast to the ordered proceedings at the Opening Ceremony. The theme is A Symphony of British Music, though let’s hope it turns out to be cooler than that sounds. The programme may include the likes of Take That (whose creative director has steered this ceremony), Muse, George Michael and One Direction, as well as the London Symphony Orchestra. Plus Rio will get its own moment to shine with a taste of things to come (we predict scantily-clad samba dancers). Remember how London sent a double-decker bus to Beijing with David Beckham on? It won’t be like that.