London 2012 News


London 2012 News

The Olympic Rings above the Beijing 2008 Stadium

Credit: London 2012

Keep abreast of all the latest exciting happenings in the frantic build-up to the Olympics and Paralympics this summer with our regularly updated news section...

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Thames cable car opens a month ahead of Games

26th June 2012


The new 60 million Thames cable car spanning the river from the O2 Arena in Greenwich to the ExCeL Exhibition Centre will open at midday on Thursday 28th June. Sponsored by the Dubai-based airline Emirates, the Thames cable car will carry up to 2,500 passengers per hour in each direction (the equivalent of 50 buses) and will be accessible with an ever-trusty Oyster Card before, during and after the London Olympics. A single adult fare on pay-as-you-go Oyster will cost 3.20 while the cash fare will be 4.30, Transport for London (TfL) said. Children under the age of five will be entitled to free travel, but a cash ticket for those aged 15 or under will cost 2.20 (1.60 for those using Oyster cards). A non-stop round trip will cost 6.40 with Oyster. The service will operate through the week from 7am until 9pm. Gates will open an hour later on Saturdays while the service will run from 9am on Sundays. Those planning to use the Thames cable car regularly will be able to make 10 single journeys for 16 using a "frequent flyer" pass, according to TfL.


Russian ice arena plan given green light

20th June 2012


The Russian Olympic Committee have confirmed they will set up two hospitality centres for the duration of the London Olympics including a vast summer ice arena in the shadow of one of the capital's most famous monuments. Russia Park in Perks Fields by Kensington Palace will showcase Russian culture and traditions, acting as a media base during the Games. There will also be a multi-purpose sports zone containing a mini ice rink that converts to a football pitch, a snowboarding simulator, ice curling tracks and much more. Russia Park will be complemented by the Sochi Showcase in nearby Kensington Gardens, which will look to promote the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. No expenses have been spared for the imperious 6,000-square metre Sochi Park, with the Ice Arena installed in front of the famous Albert Memorial for twice daily theatrical ice dance performances by the world's leading figure skaters. Initial plans to open the Sochi Showcase at Marble Arch hit a snag when Westminster Council refused the project planning permission. Entry to both Russia Park and Sochi Park is not free, however: early bird tickets will set you back 10, online tickets are 18 and tickets on the door 20 (concessions available). One ticket will allow you entry into both attractions, which are located about 15 minutes walk from one another. For more information on this and all of the confirmed National Hospitality Houses please see our Olympic National Hospitality Houses feature.


British countryside theme for Opening Ceremony

13 June 2012


The opening scene of the 27m Olympic Opening Ceremony will be called "Green and Pleasant" and will see a cast of 10,000 volunteers help recreate country scenes against a backdrop featuring farmyard animals and landmarks like Glastonbury Tor. The elaborate set will feature meadows of real grass, fields, rivers, an oak tree and rain-producing 'clouds' suspended from wires above the stadium. Families will be shown taking picnics, people will be playing sports on village greens and farmers will till the soil. In fact, real farmyard animals will be grazing including 30 sheep, 12 horses, three cows, two goats, 10 chickens, 10 ducks, nine geese and three sheepdogs. The director Danny Boyle, best-known for the Oscar-winning Slumdog Millionaire, said the show was inspired by Shakespeare's The Tempest and that it would create "a picture of ourselves as a nation". Lord Sebastian Coe, who chairs the Organising Committee Locog, said it would be a "fantastic celebration" and would "make our nation proud".


Olympic Route Network plans revealed

12th June 2012


Transport for London has released information about the Olympic Route Network (ORN) that is designed to ensure that all athletes, officials and the media get to their Games events on time. The enforcement of the ORN will begin two days before the start of the London Olympics on 25 July and run until 14 August, two days after the Olympic Closing Ceremony. The route runs alongside the east boundary of Hyde Park from near Marble Arch, through St James's Park, past Buckingham Palace, along the Embankment and onto the Olympic Park in Stratford. Special ORN road markings will start to be put down from 1 July, although they will not change the operation of the roads until 25 July. Adjustments to 1,300 sets of traffic signals is on the cards as well as the addition of temporary traffic islands and road furniture. TfL have stated that from mid-July, motorists should avoid central London, the ORN roads and roads near Games venues. Motorists have also been warned about disruptions during the cycling road races on July 28 and 29 as well as the cycling time trial on 1 August. The website has been launched to offer tips about avoiding road hotspots during the Games. "Our advice to motorists is clear. From mid-July, avoid driving in central London, around the ORN and Games venues," said London's Transport Commissioner Peter Hendy.


Thames cable car construction completed

1 June 2012


Construction of the Emirates AirLine which links the O2 Arena in Greenwich with the ExCeL Centre at the Royal Docks has been completed. Engineers have now begun to test the 50m cable car scheme in a bid to give the project the green light for a pre-Olympic opening that is still far from certain. Mayor Boris Johnson stressed that the speed in which the construction was completed was a "clear demonstration of London's ability to deliver world class projects and attract major investment". But Mr Johnson conceded the Emirates AirLine may not be ready to carry passengers in time for the Games, saying he would "not make promises of commitments" about its completion. Operation manager Danny Price said: "It was never part of the Olympic travel plan. But we always said we'd be aiming to be open for summer 2012 and that's very much the case. Testing will take as long as it needs to. The absolute priority is delivering a safe and reliable service." When the project is finished it will have 34 cable cars carrying up to 2,500 passengers an hour. Gondolas 160 feet above the river will run every 30 seconds and the journey will take five minutes.


Olympic Torch arrives in Land's End

20th May 2012


Yachtsman Ben Ainslie has set the London Olympic torch relay on the road from Land's End after the flame arrived at the extreme south-west tip of England from Greece. Standing next to a sign marking 874 miles to John O'Groats, the triple Olympic gold medallist got the triangular cheesegrater-style torch's 8,000-mile journey around Britain under way amid a crowd of flag-waving spectators. "I'm really very proud for the whole nation," Britain's most successful sailor told BBC television. "It's a fantastic moment. It's such beautiful weather here and so many great people have turned out. It was actually pretty emotional to be honest. So much effort has gone into getting the Olympics here in London, so many people and it means so much." The 70-day relay will pass through 1,019 cities, towns and villages as it travels through England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland before reaching London and lighting the Olympic Flame at the Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium on 27 July.


Locog defends Riverbank Arena hockey pitch

3 May 2012


There was drama at the Olympic Hockey test event when one of Australia's players picked up an injury on the artificial blue surface that ruled him out of the Games. But while the Australian coach complained that the pitch was too slippery and had not been worn in enough, Locog stressed that the organisers had followed the exact instructions of the world body. "We put down the hockey field of play a year before the Olympics and it has had time to bed in properly," said James Bulley, the Locog head of venues and infrastructure. Despite his team's setback, another Australian player, Edward Ockenden, described the 16,000-seat Riverbank Arena as "world class". Elsewhere during the Test Event, Team GB suffered a 3-1 defeat against Germany, whose first goal came right at the start of the second half while many of the England players were still returning onto the field of play.


Olympic football draw made at Wembley

24 April 2012


The draws for both the men's and women's London 2012 Football Tournament has taken place at Wembley Stadium ahead of this summer's Games. Present at the draw was Brazilian legend Ronaldo, who won an Olympic bronze medal at the Atlanta 1996 Games. Stuart Pearce's Team GB men were drawn alongside Senegal, Uruguay and United Arab Emirates, while Hope Powell's women will face New Zealand, Cameroon and Brazil. Football is one of two Olympic sports (the other being Archery) that will get underway ahead of the official Opening Ceremony on Friday 27 July, with Team GB women playing New Zealand at the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, two days before the ceremony. Other highlights in the men's draw include Spain grouped against Japan, Morocco and Honduras, and Brazil pitted against Egypt, Belarus and New Zealand. With tickets still available, and matches taking place across the whole of the UK, the Olympic Football competition offers fans a last-ditch chance to get a slice of the action this summer.


Cable car will be ready for the Games

12th April 2012


Transport for London this week confirmed that London's new 60m cable car across the Thames would be completed in time for the Olympic Games, despite initial fears that it would not be ready until the autumn. Named the Emirates AirLine after a sponsorship deal with the Dubai-based aircraft carrier, the cable car will carry up to 2,500 passengers per hour in both directions between Greenwich Peninsula and the Royal Docks in just five minutes. It will link Olympic venues such as Greenwich Park and the North Greenwich Arena to the ExCeL Centre and then on to Olympic Park itself via the DLR. Progress has been impressive in recent weeks, with the 60m towers going up and, now, the cables that connect the two stations via the towers. The cable car is already on the TfL Underground and DLR maps and a completion date of late June has been earmarked, meaning it should be up and running well ahead of the official Olympic Opening Ceremony on 27 July. While Ken Livingstone, Labour's candidate for the London Mayoral Election, has somewhat inevitably slammed the new addition to London's skyline as 'the most expensive cable car in history', Mayor Boris Johnston has praised the project saying the cable car will be a "unique and pioneering addition to London's skyline, but also offer a serene and joyful journey across the river". Ken may be factually correct about the lofty costs of the Emirates AirLine (partially funded by public money) but so is Boris when he stresses the wow-factor of the gondola scheme. London now joins cities including Barcelona, Cologne, Hong Kong, Rio, Lisbon, New York and Singapore who all operate cable car system and the pull for tourism should be quite considerable.


Security concerns following Boat Race fiasco

8th April 2012


Trenton Oldfield, the Australian self-styled anti-elitist campaigner who disrupted the recent University Boat Race by swimming into the path of competing crews, has called for like-minded individuals to follow his lead during the London 2012 Olympics. "Are there events like today's Boat Race that you could do something similar?" wrote Oldfield in a blog post. "Is this possible in the lead up to and within the Olympics itself? It seems it might be time to employ guerrilla tactics," he continued. Oldfield suggested that events such as the torch relay, marathon and cycling road race could be disrupted by people wishing to promote their respective causes. While the police will no doubt be on guard to make sure events such as the Queen's Diamond Jubilee and the Olympics pass without similar disruption, the London 2012 chief executive Paul Deighton has stressed that over-policing would only "ruin the enjoyment" of the Games. "As you saw from the reaction to the protest at the Boat Race, people in this country don't want the enjoyment of millions to be spoilt by one idiot." There is another precedent of the Summer Games being disrupted, however: during the men's marathon in Athens 2004, defrocked Irish priest Cornelius Horan pushed over Brazilian Vanderlei de Lima, who was leading the race at the time. Horan had form too: a year previously, he made global headlines by running onto the track during the 2003 British F1 Grand Prix. That man Oldfield should certainly be monitored clearly...


Uproar over Stella McCartney's Team GB kit

25th March 2012


Why's the Union Jack flag blue? That was the question on most people's minds after the recent unveiling of the London 2012 Team GB kit, designed by Stella McCartney for Adidas. The first thing people noticed was the lack of red on the otherwise slick and sleek kit. Indeed, McCartney's deconstructed Union flag features pale and dark blue but none of the traditional red, eliminating the St George and St Patrick crosses from the design. In fact, red only appears to be used as a trim and not as part of the flag at all, which does seem rather odd. The tennis player Andy Murray, a fervent Scot, may be pleased but the whole thing does seem to be a bit of an own-goal for the sake of being different (although there is a small Union flag on the bikini bottoms of our beach volleyball players, which is sure to be in the eye-line of most spectators). In the parlance of today's youth, the kit has been labelled a "massive fail". What's more, a giant 'X' across the waist of the men's athletics uniform has also prompted members of the public to muse of the reality TV show X Factor has stepped in as sponsors. On top of that, complaints have been made that there is no reference to Northern Ireland neither in the colours or the team name emblazoned across the front, which simply reads Great Britain. Incidentally, the unveiling of the new kit comes after Mayor of London Boris Johnson apologised for the bright pink and purple uniforms the 8,000 Olympic volunteers or 'London Ambassadors' will be wearing at the Games. They, in turn, have been compared to Marks & Spencer's famous Percy Pig sweets. Anyway, it's typical of us Brits to get our (blue or pink) knickers in a twist before the event has even got underway. As long as our athletes are red-hot on the centre-stage then that's all that should matter.


UK torchbearers named ahead of nationwide relay

20th March 2012


7,300 unsung heroes have been named as torchbearers for the Olympic Torch Relay after being nominated for the contribution they have made to their community. "Delighted and honoured" to be included on the list is 99-year-old Dinah Gould, who will be 100 when she carries the flame through the London borough of Barnet with her "walking stick in one hand and the torch in the other". The 8,000-mile relay starts its 70-day journey on 19 May at Land's End and finishes at the Olympic Stadium on 27 July at the official Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium. Passing through more than 1,000 communities, the route will take the Olympic Flame to within 10 miles of over 95% of the population. An average 115 torchbearers a day will carry the flame dressed in a new white and gold outfit designed by Adidas, which looks like a blend between traditional cricket whites and a pair of pyjamas. The remaining 700 torchbearers will be revealed later this spring and are expected to include celebrities and sports stars. Before the UK Torch Relay, the Olympic Flame will travel 3,000km from Athens, the home of the Ancient Olympics, in the Greek leg of the relay, passing through 34 Greek cities from 10-17 May. 500 people will carry the flame, with Greece's British-born 10km swimming world champion Spyros Gianniotis given the honour of being the very first Torchbearer as the Olympic Flame starts its long journey towards London.







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