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London 2012: The changing face of the Olympics


London 2012: The changing face of the Olympics


Olympic fever is gripping London, as the British capital becomes the first city to host the Summer Games for a third time.

England rugby legend Clive Woodward was among those who carried the famous flame in the capital on Thursday, a day before the opening ceremony.

The sporting event has brought huge investment to London’s east end. The Olympic Park in Stratford boasts a stadium, an aquatics centre and the athletes village.

More than 14,500 athletes are competing at this year’s Games, in 26 sports, for just over 800 medals.

At the 1908 London Olympics, it was Italian marathon runner Dorando Pietri who provided the defining images. He collapsed and had to be helped across the finish line.

Back then, the stadium went up in 10 months, there was an open air pool and a cement cycle track.

When the Olympics rolled into London again 40 years later, Britain was in a desperate economic state.

The so-called Austerity Games attracted thousands of competitors, but teams had to bring their own food and equipment. The athletes slept in military accommodation.

The 2012 Olympics are costing in the region of 12 billion euros. Londoners have contributed almost 800 million euros to the overall cost.

Nearly 10 million tickets have gone on sale and Friday’s opening ceremony is expected to be watched by four billion people.

However, grand spectacles come at a cost – and not just financially.

With crowds of visitors expected to flock to the capital for this year’s Games, London’s already strained transport network is coming under even more pressure.

After seven years of planning and preparation, organisers say they are confident London is fit to pull off the “greatest show on earth”.

It is a huge investment, at a time of economic turbulence, which they also promise will deliver a long-lasting legacy.

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