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Rio Olympics 2016 - 19. August 2008.

Red Arrows to perform at Olympic Handover ceremony

Red Arrows to perform at Olympic Handover ceremonyAUGUST 19 - THE Red Arrows, who it was claimed had been banned by London 2012 organisers, are to perform at the end of the Olympic Handover ceremony in The Mall on Sunday, insidethegames can exclusively reveal.

The Sun newspaper had claimed last September that event organisers believed the Lincolnshire-based team's military background "might offend other nations".

Rachel Huxford, a spokesman for the Red Arrows, and the Olympics Minister Tessa Jowell both told insidethegames that the story was not true.

Nevertheless, fuelled by an internet campaign, the story became something of an urban myth and a petition was set up the Downing Street website.

Up to today, the petition had attracted 470,410 signatures despite the Government warning on the front "this allegation is not true".

In May London's head of ceremonies Martin Green had told insidethegames that it was "news" to him that the Red Arrows were banned.

The Red Arrows will perform a fly-past at the end of the ceremony on Sunday, sponsored by Visa and attended by 40,000 spectators, which will mark the handover in Beijing of the Olympic flag to London Mayor Boris Johnson signifying the fact that the capital will be the next Host City of the summer Games.

The Red Arrows, founded in 1964 and officially known as the Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team, performed a similar fly-past at a special ceremony held in The Mall to celebrate the Queen's Golden Jubilee in 2002.

The Red Arrows also performed a fly-past over Trafalgar Square on July 6, 2005, the day London were awarded the 2012 Olympics.

It will be the climax of an event, hosted by Claudia Winkleman and Matt Baker, the former Blue Peter presenter who has been commentating on the gymnastics for the BBC in Beijing, and which will feature a number of leading groups and artists.

The latest to be added to the programme are Sophie Ellis-Bextor, the cast of We Will Rock You and Heather Small, whose song Proud was a key element in London’s successful bid.

They will be joined by a number of former Olympic champions, including Dame Mary Peters, Sally Gunnell and Jason Gardener.

Michael Phelps, winner of a record eight gold medals in Beijing, is also due to fly in specially from China for the occasion.

The event will be broadcast live on BBC1 and Radio 2.

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