LONDON — To prepare a city even as sophisticated as London for a concentrated influx of hundreds of thousands international visitors and athletes is a massive undertaking.
Because of that, London began planning even before the city won the bid to host the 2012 Summer Olympics.
Once the bid was secure, preparations moved into high gear.
First, there was the building of the Olympic Park, sprawling across nearly 250 acres with its assortment of stadiums and venues. For London, the park includes the main stadium which will seat 80,000 for track and field events as well as for opening and closing ceremonies; the aquatics center where the world’s fastest swimmers will stroke their way to finger-tip finishes; the velodrome for cycling; and the basketball arena for basketball and handball. Another arena is solely dedicated to handball.
Also part of the complex is Olympic Village, built to house and feed more than 17,000 athletes and officials.
Other venues for sports are scattered around the City of London, as well as England, with equestrian events in Greenwich Park and soccer stadiums situated as far north as Manchester and Glasgow. Perhaps most irreverently, beach volleyball has transformed the Horse Guards Parade — just across St. James Park from Buckingham Palace — into sandy volleyball courts.
The official London organizers are relying heavily on volunteers to help the games run smoothly. In 2010 they estimated that they would need 70,000 local volunteers to help out with the games. But when, late in that year, organizers called for volunteer applications, more than 240,000 responded for those 70,000 spots.
Other 2012 Olympic games facts:
*Up to 500,000 spectators could need transport on any given day of the Olympics
*12 rail services will run to the Olympic Park during the Games
*Budget estimates put the Olympics at costing the UK government approximately $14 billion, four times the original estimate of $3.5 billion. This includes building of facilities, improving infrastructures and $966 million for security.
More information on the Olympics can be found at london2012.com.
Elaine Gaston, who lived in London with her family in the mid-90s, is a writer for Woman’s Missionary Union. To download a copy of the WMU International Mission Study on London in which this article appears, visit http://www.newsfromeurasia.com/?p=629.