Not so long ago, if you'd suggested that the Dome would stage the first high-profile test of London's ability to stage the Olympics, the men in white coats would have been called in a hurry.

But the former white elephant of east London -- now renamed the 02 Arena - has made a dramatic comeback in recent years and is now the most successful music venue in the world in terms of ticket sales.

Next October it will stage the world gymnastics championships when London will face its first examination of how to put on a global event in an Olympic sport. In the next four years, all the facilities for 2012 will be tested with major events like this.

The 02 is under pressure to set the standard by filling the 17,000-capacity venue and creating a great atmosphere for the gymnasts. That is why tickets have gone on sale more than a year before the event. What London cannot afford is for pictures of an empty arena to be broadcast around the world. The Olympic world will be watching closely.


Interestingly, the rest of the country wouldn't get too carried away with a world championship coming to town. Birmingham, for example, has successfully hosted the world indoor athletics championships and Manchester and Sheffield have also staged high-profile multi-sports events.

But it's a sign of how short London is of top-class facilities that next year's championships is a big deal. The capital wouldn't be able to stage the world swimming championships, at the moment, for example, whereas many other British cities could. The Olympic Park being built in east London's Stratford is desperately needed to change this.

I was down at the 02 the other day talking to Britain's Beijing medallist Louis Smith and world champion Beth Tweddle. They can't wait to perform on home soil next year and Beth told me she is already working on a new training regime which could allow her to compete in 2012. She had originally been planning to retire after the world championships.

The 02 provides a sobering lesson to London 2012, of course. It is now a popular place for major bands to perform -- and it is equally popular with fans who have a wide range of restaurants to visit before concerts.

But it took a few years before all this was sorted out following its opening for the new Millennium.

The legacy of London's 2012 venues needs to be organised much more quickly if the capital is going to continue to stage major events after 2012.

Adrian Warner is BBC London's Olympics correspondent. Our FAQs should answer any questions you have.


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