Unlike the Olympic Games’ much anticipated opening ceremonies, the closing ceremonies are often met with lower spirits.
It’s really hard to say goodbye to the 207 countries and 10,000 plus athletes that inspired, entertained and even brought us to tears this summer. At the same time, the last few weeks imbued everything our world so desperately needed this year—unity, strength and peace.
If Rio 2016’s chilling closing ceremony highlighted one thing in particular, however, it’s that Tokyo is only four years away from taking on hosting duties. If tonight’s glitzy introduction was any indication, Japan is definitely going to bring it in 2020.
Until then, take a trip down memory lane and see which closing ceremonies made the cut for the top five in Olympic history.
5. 2000 Sydney
Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, Oi! Oi! Oi! Sydney had a lot to live up to when closing the first Olympic-games of the new millennium. And it surely did not disappoint, with lighthearted moments that have been remembered up until today. From the infamous lawn mower that purposely crashed through band members to the angry inflatable kangaroo that graced the stage, Australia had the entire world laughing. And who can forget Men at Work’s performance of “Land Down Under” that had everyone up on their feet.
4. 2016 Rio
No one can rain on this Rio parade! Even though the elements were a bit temperamental, this year’s closing ceremony still managed to shine bright. Must see moments included America’s sweetheart, Simone Biles, carrying the US flag (and being stopped to take a selfie more than a few times) and Tonga’s shirtless flag bearer making yet another appearance. Vibrant colors and carnival dancers closed the Brazilian stage in a closing ceremony we won’t forget.
3. 1996 Atlanta
Atlanta definitely rose above adversity in their closing ceremony. Surrounding the terrorist bombing at the Centennial Olympic Park Bombing, IOC president Juan Antonio Samaranch called for a moment of silence and reminded viewers, “No act of terrorism has ever destroyed the Olympic movement and none ever will.” The show must go on, and the ceremony certainly did with a musical line up that was truly one for the books. Gloria Estefan, Sheila E., Stevie Wonder, and Faith Hill were among a few of the incredible artists who harmonized under conductor Harold Wheeler.
2. 2008 Beijing
When it came to outstanding visual effects and a firework showcase that practically lit the entire city, no host city has even come close to Beijing. The country said bye-bye in a big way, with the construction of the “Memory Tower.” a 60-foot-tall human tower that symbolized the fighting spirit of all mankind. It’s no surprise this closing ceremony was one of the most watched of all time.
1. 2012 London
Two words. John Lennon. London honed in on what makes the Olympics so special in their recreation of The Beatles co-founder’s “Imagine”, performed by The Children’s Choir. The performance was especially moving with flashback clips of the late-singer singing lyrics to the poignant song. As the performance was wrapping up, an all-white sculpture of Lennon’s face was constructed on stage, signature glasses an all. And as if that wasn’t enough, the Spice Girls and Ed Sheeran also made an appearance.
Watch E! News at 7 p.m. and 11 p.m. for the latest excitement from Rio!