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EYES ON LONDON: For London Olympics, farewell time

Monday - 8/13/2012, 6:03am  ET

By The Associated Press

LONDON (AP) - This is the final installment of Eyes on London, which roamed the 2012 Olympics and its host city with journalists from The Associated Press bringing the flavor and details of the games to you:



Thousands of Olympic athletes have started streaming into Heathrow Airport. Some were even waved off by special volunteers wearing bearskin hats.

Heathrow is bracing for one of its busiest days ever with some 116,000 people expected to leave Britain on Monday.

A special terminal with 31 check-in desks has been set up to deal with departing athletes and support staff. After three days, it will go back to its previous life: a parking lot for airport staff.

_ Gregory Katz _ Twitter



The Olympics ended without any terror incidents or disruptive demonstrations, but police say their jobs are far from over. Some 7,000 officers will be on hand to police the upcoming Nottinghill Carnival, and the same number will help secure the Paralympics, which don't end until next month.

That means no vacations until then.

"I'm very proud that we didn't have anything serious to deal with, but that was because of a lot of hard work done by a lot of people," Chris Allison with Scotland Yard tells The Associated Press. "The focus has been exactly where we wanted _ on the sport and not security."

Some 250 people were arrested during the games.

_ Paisley Dodds _ Twitter



Overnight, Olympic Park in London has gone from party central to an empty, blocked-off construction site.

Now that the games are over, the park is eerily deserted. The main stadium is blocked off by metal barriers, concession stands are closed, and the world's biggest McDonald's empty. Small groups of construction workers are working to transform the venues for use in the Paralympic Games, which begin Aug. 29.

Olympic Park had been visited by more than 5 million people over the last 17 days.

It will be closed to the public until the Paralympics _ and for almost a year afterwards, while some venues are torn down and others are modified. It will open in stages from next summer as the 560-acre (227-hectare) Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

_ Jill Lawless _ Twitter



All good things must come to an end. And, say London's cab drivers, thank goodness for that.

While some people are sad to see the Olympics end, cab drivers are celebrating the re-opening of road lanes that had been used for athletes and other officials during the games. "It's been brutal," says Shafiq Arjaz, a 43-year-old cab driver.

_ Paisley Dodds _ Twitter



Esther Lofgren, who won gold for the U.S. rowing team, has been one of the first athletes to leave Britain.

Sporting her medal at Heathrow's special terminal for athletes on Monday, she says: "Getting to see the other athletes competing was just amazing."

She says watching Usain Bolt was a highlight, but so was hanging out with other athletes.

_ Martin Benedyk _ Twitter



As the London Olympics closed, the next host, Rio de Janeiro, was set to kick off four years of preparations for games that some see as Brazil's entrance onto the world stage.

Many are bracing for a rocky ride as Rio _ a laid-back beach city not known for its efficiency or punctuality _ rushes to build four main Olympic sites and undertake a massive infrastructure overhaul.

Rio native Joao Carlos de Figueireiro said that despite the "mess" that was sure to come, he had faith things would work out in the end.

"There are definitely things we need to work on, organization-wise," said Figueireiro, a 56-year-old barman at a neighborhood cafe. "But we're experts at pulling rabbits out of hats at the last minute and I'm sure that's what we're going to do."

_ Jenny Barchfield



There were rooftop missiles near the main venue, an imposing warship on hand, an army of undercover agents. But the 2012 Olympics turned out to be terrorism-free.

British authorities say that was no coincidence.

A day after London won the Olympic bid in 2005, homegrown suicide bombers struck during London's morning rush-hour. In the aftermath, Britain's security, intelligence and eavesdropping agencies _ MI5, MI6 and GCHQ _ received more money, manpower and equipment and thwarted dozens of terror plots _ a major factor they say has helped to keep the games safe.

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