The 2012 Summer Olympics (officially the Games of the XXX Olympiad and also known as London 2012) were an international multi-sport event held between 27 July and 12 August 2012 in London, England. The first event, the group stages in women's football, began two days earlier, on 25 July. A total of 10,768 athletes from 204 National Olympic Committees (NOCs) participated in the Games.
Following a bid headed by former Olympic champion Sebastian Coe and then-London mayor Ken Livingstone, the city was selected as the host city for the 2012 Games at the 117th IOC Session in Singapore on 6 July 2005, defeating bids from Moscow, New York City, Madrid, and Paris. London is the first city to host the Olympic Games three times, having previously done so in 1908 and 1948. Construction in preparation for the 2012 Olympics involved considerable redevelopment, particularly themed towards sustainability. The main focus was a new 200-hectare (490-acre) Olympic Park, constructed on a former industrial site in Stratford, East London. The Games also made use of venues already in place before the bid.
The 2012 Olympic Games were highlighted for their organisation, with the volunteers, the British military, and public enthusiasm praised particularly highly. The USA's Michael Phelps became the most decorated Olympic athlete of all time, winning his 22nd medal. Great Britain achieved its highest tally of gold medals since 1908, finishing third in the medal table. Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Brunei entered female athletes for the first time, meaning every currently eligible country has sent a female competitor to the Olympics at least once. With women's boxing included, the 2012 Games became the first where every sport had female competitors. The 2012 Olympics have been said to be "the greatest Games since moderation".
By 15 July 2003, the deadline for interested cities to submit bids to the International Olympic Committee (IOC), nine cities had submitted bids to host the 2012 Summer Olympics: Havana, Istanbul, Leipzig, London, Madrid, Moscow, New York City, Paris, and Rio de Janeiro. Since the United Kingdom hosted the 1948 Summer Olympics in London, three bids had been made for a British city to host the Summer Olympics: Birmingham for the 1992 Games and Manchester for the 1996 and 2000 Games. Preliminary planning for a possible London bid for the 2012 Olympics began in 1997. The United Kingdom had successfully hosted the 1996 UEFA European Football Championships and the 2002 Commonwealth Games which regenerated a large part of east Manchester. Both events satisfied the IOC that the United Kingdom as a whole could host large sporting events and generated impetus for the country to host many events in the 2010s.
Then-London mayor Ken Livingstone said that his primary motivation for initiating and lobbying for the city's bid was to develop the East End of London, which had been neglected for over thirty years. On 18 May 2004, the IOC, as a result of a scored technical evaluation, reduced the number of cities to five: London, Madrid, Moscow, New York, and Paris. All five cities submitted their candidate files by 19 November 2004, and were visited by the IOC inspection team during February and March 2005. The Paris bid suffered two setbacks during the IOC inspection visit: a number of strikes and demonstrations coinciding with the visits, and a report that Guy Drut, a key member of the bid team, would face charges over alleged corrupt political finances.
On 6 June 2005, the IOC released its evaluation reports for the five candidate cities. Although these reports did not contain any scores or rankings, the evaluation report for Paris was considered the most positive, followed closely by London, which had narrowed most of the gap observed by the initial evaluation in 2004 regarding Paris. New York and Madrid also received very positive evaluation reports. Throughout the process, Paris was widely seen as the favourite to win the nomination, as this was its third bid in recent history. Originally, London was seen as lagging Paris by a considerable margin, but its situation began to improve with the appointment of Lord Coe as the head of the London Olympic committee on 19 May 2004.
In August 2004, reports predicted a London and Paris tie in the 2012 bid. In the final run-up to the 117th IOC Session, London and Paris appeared to be increasingly in a neck-and-neck race. On 1 July 2005, Jacques Rogge, when asked who the winner would be, told the assembled press: "I cannot predict it since I don't know how the IOC members will vote. But my gut feeling tells me that it will be very close. Perhaps it will come down to a difference of say ten votes, or maybe less".
On 6 July 2005, the final selection was announced at the 117th IOC Session in Singapore. Moscow was the first city to be eliminated, followed by New York and Madrid. The final two cities left in contention were London and Paris. At the end of the fourth round of voting, London won the right to host the 2012 Games with 54 votes, defeating Paris's 50. The celebrations in London were short-lived, being overshadowed by bombings on London's transport system less than 24 hours after the announcement.
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Development and preparation
The London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (LOCOG) was created to oversee the staging of the Games after the success of the bid, and held its first board meeting on 3 October 2005. The committee, chaired by Lord Coe, was in charge of implementing and staging the Games, while the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA), established in April 2005, was in charge of the construction of the venues and infrastructure.
The Government Olympic Executive (GOE), a unit within the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), was the lead government body for coordinating the London 2012 Olympics. It focused on oversight of the Games, cross-programme management and the London 2012 Olympic Legacy before and after the Games that would benefit London and the United Kingdom. The organisation was also responsible for the supervision of the £9.3 billion of public sector funding.
In August 2011, security concerns arose surrounding the hosting of the Olympic Games in London due to the 2011 England riots, with a few countries expressing fear over the safety of the Games, in spite of the International Olympic Committee's assurance that the riots would not affect the Games.
The IOC's Coordination Commission for the 2012 Games completed its tenth and final visit to London in March 2012. Its members concluded that "London is ready to host the world this summer".
The 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games used a mixture of new, existing, historic, and temporary facilities, some of them in well-known locations, such as Hyde Park and Horse Guards Parade. After the Games, some of the new facilities would be reused in their Olympic form, while others would be resized or relocated.
The majority of venues were divided into three zones within Greater London: the Olympic Zone, the River Zone and the Central Zone. In addition, there were a few venues that were by necessity outside the boundaries of Greater London, such as the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy some 125 miles (200 km) southwest of London, which hosted the sailing events. The football tournament was staged at several grounds around the UK. Work began on the park in December 2006, when a sports hall in Eton Manor was pulled down. The athletes' village in Portland was completed in September 2011.
In November 2004, the 200-hectare (500-acre) Olympic Park plans were revealed after being approved two months earlier by Tower Hamlets, Newham, Hackney and Waltham Forest. The redevelopment of the area required compulsory purchase orders of property. The London Development Agency was in dispute with London and Continental Railways about the orders in November 2005. By May 2006, 86% of the land had been bought as businesses fought eviction. Residents who opposed the eviction attempted to fight it by setting up campaigns, but had to leave as 94% of land was bought and the other 6% bought as a £9 billion regeneration project started.
There were some issues with the original venues not being challenging enough or being financially unviable. The Olympic road races and the mountain bike event were initially considered to be too easy, so they were eventually scheduled in new locations. The Olympic marathon course, which was set to finish in the Olympic stadium, was moved to the Mall since closing the Tower Bridge would cause traffic problems in central London. North Greenwich Arena 2 was scrapped in a cost-cutting exercise, with Wembley Arena being used for badminton and rhythmic gymnastics events instead.
Test events were held throughout 2011 and 2012, either through an existing championship (such as the 2012 Wimbledon Championships) or as a specially created event held under the banner of London Prepares.
London's public transport scored poorly in the IOC's initial evaluation. However, it felt that the city would cope if the improvements were delivered in time for the Games. Transport for London (TfL) carried out numerous improvements in preparation for the Games, including the expansion of the London Overground's East London Line, upgrades to the Docklands Light Railway and the North London Line, and the introduction of a new "Javelin" high-speed rail service. According to Network Rail, an additional 4,000 train services operated during the Games, and train operators ran longer trains during the day. During the Games, the Stratford International station was not served by any international services, westbound trains did not stop at Hackney Wick railway station, and the Pudding Mill Lane DLR station closed entirely during the Games.
TfL also built the Emirates Air Line, a £25 million cable car, across the River Thames to link 2012 Olympics venues. It was inaugurated in June 2012, and crosses the Thames between Greenwich Peninsula and the Royal Docks, carrying up to 2,500 passengers an hour, cutting journey times between the O2 arena and the ExCel exhibition centre, and providing a crossing every 30 seconds.
The plan was to have 80% of athletes travel within 20 minutes to their event, and 93% within 30 minutes. The Olympic Park would be served by ten separate railway lines with a combined capacity of 240,000 passengers per hour. In addition, the LOCOG planned for 90% of the venues to be served by three or more types of public transport. Two park-and-ride sites off the M25 with a combined capacity of 12,000 cars were 25 minutes away from the Olympic Park. Another park-and-ride site was planned in Ebbsfleet, with a capacity for 9,000 cars where spectators could board a 10-minute shuttle bus. To get spectators to Eton Dorney, four park-and-ride schemes were set up.
TfL defined a network of roads leading between venues as the Olympic Route Network, roads connecting between all of the Olympic venues located within London. Many of these roads also contained special "Olympic lanes" marked with the Olympic rings, reserved for the use of Olympic athletes, officials and other VIPs during the Games. Members of the public driving in an Olympic lane were subject to a fine of £130. Additionally, London buses would not include roads with Olympic lanes on their routes. The painting of Olympic lane indicators in mid-July led to confusion from commuters, who wrongly believed that the Olympic lane restrictions had already taken effect (they were scheduled to take effect on 27 July). The A4 experienced traffic jams due to drivers avoiding the Olympic lane, and likewise on a section of Southampton Row, where the only lanes available in one direction were the Olympic lane and the bus lane.
Concerns were expressed at the logistics of spectators travelling to the events outside London. In particular, the sailing events at Portland had no direct motorway connections, and local roads are heavily congested by tourist traffic in the summer. However, a £77 million relief road connecting Weymouth to Dorchester was built and opened in 2011. Some £16 million was put aside for the rest of the improvements.
TfL created Get Ahead of the Games, a promotional campaign and website that would help provide information related to transport during the Olympics and Paralympics. Through the campaign, TfL also encouraged the use of cycling as a mode of transport during the Games. Despite this encouragement, members of the public protested that riding bikes on London roads would be more dangerous due to the blocked Olympic lanes, and also protested against a decision to close the Lea Valley towpath during the Games due to security concerns.
The costs of mounting the Games are separate from those for building the venues and infrastructure, and redeveloping the land for the Olympic Park. While the Games are privately funded, the venues and Park costs are met largely by public money.
The original budget for the Games was £2.4 billion, but this was increased almost fourfold to about £9.3 billion ($14.46 billion) in 2007. The revised figures were announced to the House of Commons by Tessa Jowell on 15 March 2007. Along with East End regeneration costs, the breakdown was:
- Building the venues and infrastructure — £5.3 billion
- Elite sport and Paralympic funding — £400 million.
- Security and policing — £600 million
- Regeneration of the Lower Lea Valley — £1.7 billion
- Contingency fund — £2.7 billion
- VAT — £800 million.
Unpaid volunteers known as Games Makers performed a variety of tasks before and during the Games. A target of 70,000 volunteers was set as early as 2004. When recruitment took place in 2010, over 240,000 applications were received. In February 2012, Sebastian Coe said, "Our Games Makers will contribute a total of around eight million volunteer hours during the Games and the Games simply wouldn't happen without them". The volunteers wore Olympic-style clothing, which includes purple and red shirts, jackets and fleeces, as well as beige socks and trousers with beige-brown shoes. Volunteers also wore photo accreditation badges which were also worn by officials, athletes, family members and media which gain them access to specific venues and buildings around the site.
Organisers estimated that some 8 million tickets would be available for the Olympic Games, and 1.5 million tickets for the Paralympic Games. The LOCOG aimed to raise £375–400 million in ticket sales. There were also free events such as marathon, triathlon and road cycling, but for the first time in Olympic history, the sailing events were ticketed. Eventually, over 7 million tickets were sold. Following IOC rules, people applied for tickets from the National Olympic Committee of their country of residence. European Union residents were able to apply for tickets in any EU country.
In Great Britain, ticket prices ranged from £20 for many events to £2,012 for the most expensive seats at the opening ceremony. Free tickets were given to military personnel, as well as survivors and families of those who died in the 2005 London bombings. Initially, people were able to apply for tickets online from 15 March to 26 April 2011. There was a huge demand for tickets, with a demand of over three times the number of tickets available. The process was widely criticised, as over 50% of the sessions went to a random ballot, and more than half the people who applied received no tickets. On 11 May 2012, a round of nearly a million "second chance" tickets went on sale between 23 June and 3 July 2011. About 1.7 million tickets available for football and 600,000 for other sports (including archery, hockey, football, judo, boxing and volleyball). Although technical difficulties were encountered, ten sports had sold out by 8 am of the first day.
During the closing ceremony of the 2008 Olympics, the Olympic Flag was formally handed over from the Mayor of Beijing to the Mayor of London, followed by a section highlighting London. A month later, the Olympic and Paralympic flags were raised outside the London City Hall. countdown clock in Trafalgar Square was unveiled 500 days before the Games. The clock broke down the following day. The countdown to the start of the Olympics began with a ceremony for the lighting of the Olympic flame in Olympia, Greece.
The security operation was led by London police, with 10,000 officers available, supported by 13,500 members of the armed forces. Naval and air assets, including ships situated in the Thames, Eurofighter jets and surface-to-air missiles, were deployed as part of the security operation, the biggest that Britain had faced in decades. The cost of security increased from £282 million to £553 million, and the figure of 13,500 armed forces personnel was more than Britain had currently deployed in Afghanistan. The Metropolitan Police and the Royal Marines carried out security exercises in preparation for the Olympics on 19 January 2012, with 50 marine police officers in rigid inflatables and fast response boats, joined by up to 100 military personnel and a Lynx Navy helicopter.
The Ministry of Defense distributed leaflets to residents of the Lexington building in Bow, announcing that a missile system was to be stationed on top of the water tower, which caused concern to some residents. The Ministry said it probably would use Starstreak missiles and that site evaluations had taken place, but that no final decision had taken place.
In July 2012, it emerged that G4S, the firm responsible for supplying security staff for the Olympics, had been unable to recruit enough, so the shortfall would have to be made up by 3,500 UK military servicepeople. There were also media reports that G4S had failed to respond to people applying for jobs as security staff, that recruits were inadequately trained, that some were teenagers, and some were not fully conversant in English.
Approximately 4,700 Olympic and Paralympic medals were produced by the Royal Mint at Llantrisant and designed by David Watkins (Olympics) and Lin Cheung (Paralympics). 99% of the gold, silver and copper was donated by Rio Tinto from a mine in Salt Lake County, Utah, and the remaining 1% came from a Mongolian mine. Each medal weighs 375–400 g (13.2–14 oz), has a diameter of 85 mm (3.3 in), and is 7 mm (0.28 in) thick, with the sport and discipline engraved on the rim. As is traditional, the obverse features Nike, the Greek goddess of victory, stepping from the Panathinaiko Stadium that hosted the first modern Olympic Games in 1896, with Parthenon in the background; the reverse features the Games logo, the River Thames and a series of lines representing "the energy of athletes and a sense of pulling together". The medals were transferred for storage in the vaults of the Tower of London on 2 July 2012.
Each gold medal is made up of 92.5% silver and 1.34% gold, with the remainder made of copper. The silver medal (which represents second place) is made of 92.5% silver, with the remainder copper. The bronze medal is made of 97% copper, 2.5% zinc and 0.5% tin. The value of the materials in the gold medal was about $644, the silver about $330, and the bronze about $4.71 on the market at the time.
The Olympic torch has a simple design: 8,000 tiny holes to represent the 8,000 people who will carry it during the torch relay. A triangular shape represents the following series of threes: the three Olympic values of respect, excellence and friendship, the three words that make the Olympic motto – faster, higher, stronger, the third time that Great Britain has hosted the Olympic Games, after 1908 and 1948, the vision for the 2012 Olympic Games to combine three bodies of work – sport, education and culture. The torch is gold in color to represent brightness and warmth of the Olympic flame.
East Londoners Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby won the opportunity to design the torch through a competition run by LOCOG and the Design Council. The two designers worked with product engineers Tecosim from Basildon and Premier Sheet Metal from Coventry. Mass production of the torch begins at the end of 2011
The Olympics torch relay ran from 19 May to 27 July 2012. Plans for the relay were developed between 2010 and 2011, with the torch-bearer selection process announced on 18 May 2011. The Olympic flame arrived on flight BA2012 from Greece on 18 May 2012. The relay lasted 70 days, with 66 evening celebrations and six island visits, and involved about 8,000 people carrying the torch a distance of about 8,000 miles (12,800 km), starting from Land's End in Cornwall. The torch had one day outside of the United Kingdom when it visited Dublin on 6 June. The relay focused on National Heritage Sites, locations and venues with sporting significance, key sporting events, schools registered with the Get Set School Network, green spaces and biodiversity, Live Sites (city locations with large screens), festivals, and other events.
The Olympic Park was planned to incorporate 45 hectares of wildlife habitat, with a total of 525 bird boxes, and 150 bat boxes. Local waterways and riverbanks were enhanced as part of the process. Renewable energy also featured at the Olympics; it was originally planned to provide 20% of the energy for the Olympic Park and Village from renewable technologies, but this may now be as little as 9%. Proposals to meet the original target included large-scale on-site wind turbines and hydroelectric generators in the River Thames. These plans were scrapped for safety reasons, and the focus moved to installing solar panels on some buildings, and providing the opportunity to recover energy from waste. Food packaging at the Olympics was made from compostable materials like starch and cellulose-based bioplastics, so it cannot be reused or recycled. After they have been used, many of these materials would be suitable for anaerobic digestion (AD), allowing them to be made into renewable energy. Buildings like the Water Polo Arena would be relocated elsewhere. Building parts like roofing covers and membranes of different temporary venues would be recycled via Vinyloop. This allows to meet the standards of the Olympic Delivery Authority, concerning environmental protection. Through this recycling process, the Olympic Games PVC Policy will be fulfilled; it states that:
"Where London 2012 procures PVC for temporary usage or where permanent usage is not assured, London 2012 is required to ensure that there is a take-back scheme that offers a closed loop reuse system or mechanical recycling system for post-consumer waste."
The 2012 Olympics were the first whose guidelines included the recycling of PVC.
The Olympic Charter, the set of rules and guidelines for the organization of the Olympic Games and for governing the Olympic Movement, states that
"LOCOG shall organize a programme of cultural events which must cover at least the entire period during which the Olympic Village is open."
The Cultural Olympiad comprises many programmes, with over 500 events spread over four years across the whole of the United Kingdom, and culminating in the London 2012 Festival.
The opening ceremony of the 2012 Summer Olympics was held on 27 July, and was named "Isles of Wonder". Oscar-winning director Danny Boyle was its artistic director, with the music directors being the electronic music duo Rick Smith and Karl Hyde of Underworld.
The Games were officially opened by Queen Elizabeth II, accompanied by Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. It was the second Games the Queen had opened personally, the first being the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal. All successive Olympics held in Canada or Australia have been opened by their respective governors-general.
A short comic film starring Daniel Craig as secret agent James Bond and the Queen as herself was screened during the ceremony.
Live musical performers included Frank Turner, Mike Oldfield, London Symphony Orchestra (accompanied by Rowan Atkinson), Dizzee Rascal, Arctic Monkeys and Sir Paul McCartney, who performed the song "Hey Jude" at the end of the ceremony.
Furthermore, there was Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling who read a piece of the story of Peter Pan, followed by an enormous Voldemort figure trying to attack little children, alongside his Death-Eaters. But thousands of Mary Poppins' rose from the sky to stop him.
The official BARB ratings give the opening ceremony a rating of 24.24 million viewers, the highest audience for any British television broadcast since 1996.
The closing ceremony of the London 2012 Summer Olympics was held on 12 August 2012. In addition to protocol, the ceremony featured a flashback fiesta to British music with The Who finishing out the performance. The ceremony also included a handover of the Olympic flag by Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, to Eduardo Paes, Mayor of Rio de Janeiro, the host city of the 2016 Summer Olympics.
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