2012 London Olympics Preview

Tuesday, 15th November 2011 by

With around 250 days until the start of the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, this seems like a good opportunity for a quick preview of the venues that will be used for the 26 different sports. A number of new venues in the 'Olympic Zone' are shown under construction in Google's satellite imagery dating from June 2010.

The new Olympic Stadium was completed earlier this year and has a capacity of around 80,000 spectators.

After the Olympics and Paralympics are over it will be converted to a football stadium for use by West Ham United who won the right to use it after a controversial court battle with other clubs. The track and field facilities will be retained and the stadium will host the 2017 World Athletics Championships.

The Olympic Zone will be the focal point of the Games and features a number of other new facilities including the Aquatics Centre, the velopark (which includes the velodrome and outdoor road and BMX circuits) and the basketball arena.

While it's hard to find good Street View images, the elevated section of the A12 gives us a glimpse of the construction site. It reveals the swooping shape of the velodrome and the ridged roof of the basketball arena.

We also get a very distant view of the stadium and Aquatics Centre.

The Zone also includes a handball arena and two hockey stadiums in this area which is shown full of construction materials. A former greyhound racing facility may serve as the media centre for the Games.

The eastern side of the development features the Athletes' Village - a number of accommodation buildings for the 10,000-plus athletes and their team officials. After the Games they will be taken over by the city of Stratford which is being extensively redeveloped.

Further south, the 'River Zone' will feature four venues along the Thames, including the O2 Arena1, which will be used for gymnastics. The Excel Arena will house competition in seven sports including boxing, table tennis and judo. The historic Royal park in Greenwich will host all equestrian events while all shooting events will take place the Royal Artillery Barracks2.

While a number of other pre-existing venues scattered across London will be used for various sports, in some cases the Games organisers are creating venues in non-traditional but iconic locations. For example, a temporary 15,000 seat beach volleyball stadium will be built in Horseguards Parade which normally plays host to the Trooping of the Colour.

The wide green expanse of Lord's Cricket Ground will be converted to an archery venue with seating for close to 7,000 spectators.

There are several venues outside the city as well, including the Lee Valley White Water Centre which we see here under construction prior to its opening for canoe/kayak events a year ago.

For the past couple of Olympics, Google has released brand-new satellite and Street View imagery shortly before the Games, so we'll plan to do a more detailed post next summer. If they can do Street View on the slopes at Whistler, I hope the next step forward is to strap a camera to a kayak and send it down the whitewater course!

Read more about the 2012 Olympic venues at Wikipedia and at the London 2012 site.

  1. We did an extensive post about the former Millennium Dome a couple of years ago. A ban on non-Olympic corporate sponsors mean it will become the 'North Greenwich Arena' for the duration of the Games. ↩︎

  2. The Royal Artillery Barracks may be worth of its own post some day. It has both the longest building facade and the largest parade square in Britain! ↩︎