London bid for the 2012 Summer Olympics

Bids for the
2012 (2012) Summer Olympics and Paralympics
Games of the XXX Olympiad
XIV Paralympic Games
London 2012 Olympic bid logo.svg
Paris · Madrid · Moscow · New York City
CityLondon, England
NOCBritish Olympic Association (BOA)
IOC score7.6
Previous Games hosted
1908 Summer Olympics
1948 Summer Olympics
ResultDefeated Paris in Round 4, 54–50

London 2012 was the successful bid to host the 2012 Summer Olympics, held in London with most events taking place in Stratford in the borough of Newham. The British Olympic Association had been working on the bid since 1997, and presented its report to government ministers in December 2000.

Following three consecutive unsuccessful UK bids to host summer Olympic Games (Birmingham for 1992 and Manchester for 1996 and 2000), the decision was made to bid with London, given the clear indication that it was the only UK city that had a chance of being selected by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) when put up against other world cities in a competitive bidding process.[1] On 6 July 2005 at its 117th Session in Singapore, the IOC awarded London the right to host the Games of the XXX Olympiad. The city beat the favourite Paris 54 to 50 on the fourth and final ballot. London is the first city to host the Games three times.[2]

At the time of the bid, the budget projection was around £2 billion, but it was later estimated that the true cost would be around £9 billion.[3] The project involved a major regeneration of the Stratford area of London, as well as improvements to surrounding services and associated venues.[1] Public transport, an aspect of the proposal which scored poorly for the bid, saw numerous improvements, including to the London Underground and the new "Olympic Javelin" service.[4]

The celebrations of the bid's success were partly silenced the day after the announcement when the 7 July 2005 London bombings killed 52 people and injured hundreds more. There was no confirmed link between the IOC decision and the attack,[5] which also coincided with the G8 Summit in Scotland.

Following the success of the bid, the London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) was established to oversee the ongoing development of the games. Some alterations were made after the bid was accepted, including the decision by the IOC to eliminate some sporting events,[6] and a new layout for the Olympic Zone, both resulting in some relatively minor changes to the Olympic venues.

London 2012 banner at The Monument

Sporting venues

The 2012 Olympics were planned to use a mixture of newly built venues, existing facilities, and temporary facilities, some of them in well known locations such as Hyde Park and Horse Guards Parade. In the wake of the problems that plagued the Millennium Dome, the intention was that there would be no white elephants after the games. Some of the new facilities would be reused in their Olympic form, while others would be reduced in size and several would be relocated elsewhere in the UK. The plans would contribute to the regeneration of Stratford in east London, which would be the site of the Olympic Park, and of the neighbouring Lower Lea Valley.[7]

However, this required the compulsory purchase of some businesses and this caused controversy, with some of the business owners claiming that the compensation offered was inadequate. The purchased buildings were demolished to make way for Olympic venues and infrastructure improvements.

The majority of venues were divided into three zones within Greater London: the Olympic Zone, the River Zone and the Central Zone. Also some venues (such as those for sailing) were outside the boundaries of Greater London.[1]

The IOC noted that future negotiations were necessary to ensure the use of the Old Trafford and Villa Park football stadiums. The need for compulsory purchase orders was also highlighted as a possible problem for the Olympic Park, but IOC did not expect this to cause any "undue delay to construction schedules".[8]

At the time of the bid, 60% of the venues and facilities were in place. The remaining venues were proposed to be completed between 2007 and the start of the games. At time of the bid the following were the tentative completion dates for some of the remaining venues: Channel Tunnel/Stratford rail link (2007); Aquatics Centre and London Velopark (2008); East London line extension (2010); Olympic Stadium and Heathrow's Terminal Five final completion (2011).

Olympic Zone

The Olympic Zone encompasses all of the facilities within the 500-acre (2 km²) Olympic Park in Stratford. This park was developed on existing waste and industrial land, at TQ379849, just seven minutes by Olympic Javelin train from central London. The park contains:[9]

River Zone

ExCel Exhibition Centre

The River Zone featured five main venues in the Thames Gateway area straddling the River Thames:

Central Zone

The Central Zone was formed out of all the remaining venues within Greater London. They are quite widely spread across central and west London:

Outside Greater London

Three of the venues were just outside Greater London:[20]

The Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy, in Portland Harbour, Dorset, on the south coast of England, would be used for the sailing events. It is around 120 miles (192 km) from central London.

The earlier stages of the football competition were played at football stadia around the country including:

Olympic Village

The Olympic Village was located in Lower Lea Valley in east London. The area was then underdeveloped, and thus a well-suited place to construct the village.[21] Because the Olympic Village is located within the Olympic Park, about 75 percent of athletes would be within 15 minutes of their venues; this compact design, according to double Olympic decathlon gold medallist Daley Thompson, would "make [the experience] so much more inspirating [sic] and real". When the games are over, the Village will be converted into new homes and facilities for the local community.[22]

Australian construction company Lend Lease Corp Ltd was chosen to build the Olympic Village. The project cost £5.3 billion (A$13.2 billion)[23] and was constructed in two phases. The first phase, which involves the development of 4,200 residential buildings and other accommodations for the village, began in 2008. When the 2012 Olympics are over, the second phase will involve the refurbishment of the Olympic village and construction on another 500,000 m2 (5,400,000 sq ft) of space to complete the regeneration of Stratford City.[24]

The Olympic Village's accommodations are the most spacious in Olympic history. Each athlete and official is guaranteed their own bed – over 17,000 beds in total. Each apartment was billed to include Internet access and wireless networking and other state-of-the-art technology.[25]

Transport and infrastructure

A London Underground train decorated to promote London's olympic bid – this coincided with plans for investment the city's public transport network

Public transport, an aspect of the bid which scored poorly in the IOC's initial evaluation,[26] was planned to see numerous improvements, including the expansion of the London Underground's East London Line, upgrades to the Docklands Light Railway and the North London Line, and the temporary "Olympic Javelin" service.[4] The games were won without a commitment to deliver Crossrail by 2012. This was the largest transport project proposed for London, and it was widely assumed in the early stages of the bidding process that the games could not be won without a guarantee that it would be completed before the games.

The bid envisaged that 80% of athletes would be within 20 minutes of their events and 97% would be within 30 minutes of their events. It was estimated that 80% of spectators would arrive by rail.[27] Together, all the planned heavy rail, light rail, and underground services (excluding Crossrail) were expected to deliver around 240 trains every hour.[28]

Additionally, there were to be two major park and ride sites off the M25 within 25 minutes of the Olympic Park capable of holding 12,000 cars. For the most part, predictions showed that on event days, 78% of spectators were likely to travel from within London and only 22% from the rest of the UK and Europe. Organizers hoped to use low- or no-emission vehicles to transport Olympic athletes and officials.[27]


As of the time of the bid, projections for the cost of the 2012 Olympics were low. The bid team believed that London could end the Games with a surplus of more than £100 million. The organising committee laid out the following figures:

  • £560 million for new venues, including £250 million for the Olympic Stadium.
  • £650 million for the Olympic village.
  • £1.5 billion to run the Games.
  • £200 million on security.

The revenue for the games was also projected:

  • £1.5 billion from a special Olympic National Lottery game.
  • £625 million from a council tax surcharge of £20 per year for London households.
  • £560 million from IOC television and marketing deals.
  • £450 million from sponsorship and official suppliers.
  • £300 million from ticket sales.
  • £250 million from the London Development Agency.
  • £60 million from licensing.

While this projection seemed reasonable, many were adamant about the actual costs. In early 2007, it was suggested that the actual cost of the games could exceed £9.35 billion (US$18.03 billion), well over the bid projection. For comparison, the 2004 games in Athens cost around £7 billion (US$13.5 billion) and estimates for the 2008 games in Beijing run between £10 billion and £20 billion (US$19 billion and US$39 billion).[29]


Approximately 8.0 million tickets were proposed to be available for the Olympics, and 1.5 million tickets for the Paralympics.[30][31] and the London Organising Committee planned on selling a total of 6.5 million (an 81% sellout) Olympic tickets, and a 63% sellout for Paralympic tickets.[32] Olympic tickets go on sale on 15 March 2011[33] and should remain on sale until the start of the event, depending on availability. With the purchase of a ticket, each person is entitled to free transportation on London's public transport system for that day.[30] Paralympic tickets go on sale on 9 September 2011.[34]

Marketing Director David Magliano said that 1.5 million tickets would be sold for £15 (US$29). The average ticket price was set to be £40 (US$77)[32] and 75% of all tickets would cost less than £50 (US$97),[35] prices that Magliano says are reasonably accessible to almost everyone in Britain. In addition to stadium seats, there would be 20,000 £10 (US$19) tickets for the Olympic Park to watch events on big screens.[35]

Political commitment

To facilitate the Olympics at a governmental level, Cabinet-level Minister for the Olympics Tessa Jowell was set to be responsible for the games. Also in the Cabinet would be an Olympic Security Committee to co-ordinate security planning. In addition, the government proposed to create the Olympic Delivery Authority, which would oversee the construction of venues and see that the games are lived out past 2012.[27]

Other details

  • A tri-generation plant to supply electricity, heat and chilled water to the Olympic Park using technology which produces 33% lower CO2 emissions than from the electricity grid.[27]
  • By 2012, it was estimated that over 135,000 hotel rooms would be available within 50 kilometres of the Olympic Park, up from 103,000 at the time of the bid.[27] 40,330 rooms had been guaranteed at the time of the bid.[36]
  • For the first time in any Games, live Olympic backdrop presentation facilities would be available to broadcast rights holders via rooftop studios on the main press centre with a direct view of the Olympic Stadium and Park.[27]
  • The torch relay would highlight the "Olympic Truce" by passing through the countries of Nobel Peace Prize winners.[37] Following criticism of the International Torch relay in advance of the 2008 Beijing Summer Games, this was re-designed to be a UK-wide 70-day, 8000-mile torch relay with a brief excursion to Dublin, Ireland.
  • The first chairman of the London Olympic Bid was airline executive Barbara Cassani. Charles Allen, Lord Coe and Alan Pascoe were appointed Vice Chairmen in September 2003. Cassani guided the group through the first submission to the IOC, but stepped down in May 2004 in favour of Lord Coe. Coe, himself an Olympic gold medal-winning athlete and former Conservative politician, enlisted the support of many current and former British Olympians, including Kelly Holmes, Steve Redgrave, and Daley Thompson.