London Looks To Inspire a Generation With 2012 Games
By Elyse Glickman and Jason Dean
Twenty-eight years ago, Los Angeles was the host of a Summer Olympics that differed markedly from its immediate predecessors: It turned a profit.
By using existing venues (which limited construction costs) and relying on corporate support, the 1984 Games grossed about $200 million, making it by far the most financially successful Olympics ever. (By contrast, the 1976 Games were a financial disaster for host city Montreal: 30 years later, the city was still paying off debt related to the fiasco.) The Los Angeles Olympic committee also capitalized on the loftier prices being paid for exclusive television rights in the early ‘80s, creating another significant source of revenue. The Bank of England has been talking up the potential economic benefits of the 2012 Games, and the UK’s struggling economy is expected to receive a much-needed boost from increased tourism and public spending.
This year, the Decathlon turns 100 years old, women’s boxing makes its debut, and the collective experience of the Olympics has never been more accessible and immediate. Whether you plan to make a jaunt across the pond or settle in to the voluminous coverage being beamed to your living room, London is hoping the 2012 Games, true to this year’s theme, will Inspire a Generation.
U.S. Stars of all Stripes
Four years later, many wonder whether 14-time Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps will be able to continue his domination of the swimming competition. U.S. water polo team members Brenda Villa, Heather Petri, Tony Azevedo, and Ryan Bailey are competing in their fourth Olympic Games, and Troy Dumais hopes to become the first U.S. male diver to compete in four Olympic Games.
With her 400m victory at the 2011 USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships, Allyson Felix became the first sprinter to win U.S. titles in the 100, 200, and 400. She looks for the elusive Olympic gold in her specialty, the 200m. Team USA swept the medals in the men’s 400 hurdles in 2008 with Angelo Taylor (gold), Kerron Clement (silver), and Bershawn Jackson (bronze), and would love to repeat the feat. Bryan Clay, Aston Eaton, and Trey Hardee also have a solid chance of sweeping the medals for the U.S. in the decathlon. Tyson Gay, the fastest American in history, was the only person to beat Usain Bolt in 2010.
The Olympic Stadium, hosting 208 competitive events, is the most sustainable Olympic Stadium ever built. The stadium, a permanent structure that can hold up to 80,000 spectators, was built with 75 percent less steel and 40 percent less embodied carbon than what is considered norm for a contemporary public building.
ExCel, located in the famed “Docklands” near London City Airport, hosts 165 events, including boxing, fencing, judo, table tennis, Taekwondo, weightlifting, wrestling, and bocce. ExCel is also known as one of Europe’s largest, most versatile exhibition complexes, with three on-site DLR public transportation stations, parking for 3,700 cars, six upscale hotels, and numerous bars and restaurants, making it a winning site for meetings and corporate events.
The Aquatics Centre will host 192 events including diving, swimming, synchronized swimming, and the modern pentathlon. The most distinctive feature of the gravity-defying structure is its wave-like roof that is 160 meters long and 80 meters wide–longer than Terminal 5 at Heathrow.
History will be made anew at the following landmark venues: Tennis lovers around the world since 1877 have turned to Wimbledon for the sport’s most elite matches, and this summer is no exception. Besides its notoriety as the only remaining major grass court tennis venue in the world, it will get a new cache as home to the Games’ five tennis events. Wembley Arena, best known internationally as a destination venue for rock bands and music festivals, is home to seven badminton and rhythmic gymnastics events. The neighboring Wembley Stadium will be the focal point for the gold medal events, as well as the host for football (soccer) matches. Hyde Park, the largest of London’s Royal Parks open to the public since 1637, will host the triathlon and marathon swimming for a total of four events. The Lord’s Cricket Ground, located in St. John’s Wood, will be the home to four archery events during the Games and has been home to cricket matches since 1814.