George Michael has hit back at criticism that he cashed in on the Olympics by using the closing ceremony to promote his new single White Light.

On Tuesday, in a message to his fans, the pop icon tweeted: “Morning everyone! Had a GREAT time at the closing! I hope you are not bothered by the press reports of my scandalous ‘promotion’ !!!”.

“Please join me in telling them to f*** off ! It was my one chance on TV to thank you all for your loyalty and prayers, and I took it.

“And I don’t regret it”.

Sunday’s performance at the Olympic Stadium was the 49-year-old’s first since his life-threatening battle with pneumonia.

Wearing sunglasses and dressed in black leather, Michael came on stage in front of 80,000 people to sing his 1990 hit Freedom.

He then followed it up with White Light, a slower number inspired by last year’s near-death experience.

While many of the star’s fans were delighted by the performance, some felt surprised at the song choice.

“Not the time for new single promo,” said Steve Anderson on Twitter, a musical director for Kylie Minogue and Westlife.

“I’m genuinely surprised he was allowed to do this.”

Sunday’s extravaganza also included musical performances from Annie Lennox, Take That and the Spice Girls.

There was also a musical tribute to the legendary Queen front man Freddie Mercury.