London's three Olympic Games compared

Posters from the 1908, 1948 and 2012 Olympic Games (Pix: International Olympic Committee)

London is about to stage its third modern Summer Olympics - the only city to do so - but its seeds were sown in the controversial, yet defining, 1908 Games and the austere, post-war Games of 1948. So, how do they compare?

London's three Olympic Games compared

1908 (27 Apr-31 Oct) 1948 (29 Jul-14 Aug) 2012 (27 Jul-12 Aug)

Sources: British Olympic Association, Olympic Historian Phil Barker, Government Olympic Communication

Number of athletes

2,035 from 22 countries of whom 36 were women

4,099 from 59 countries of whom 385 were women.

10,490 from more than 200 countries of whom almost half are women

Number of sports

The 22 included tug-of-war, figure skating, polo and powerboat racing off Southampton. Bicycle polo was demonstrated.

Among the 17 categories, women's canoeing and bantamweight weightlifting made their first appearance. Basketball became an indoor event. The last Olympic artistic competition was held, with medals for painting, sculpture and architecture.

Women's boxing is a new sport and one of the 26 being held. A Cultural Olympiad - including the London 2012 Festival - is being staged but with no medals on offer.

Opening ceremony

With no formal parade uniform, graduates wore college blazers or sports gear. There was a royal march-past, a parade of nations and a display by Danish female gymnasts. Held in the afternoon.

After the royal party's arrival, IOC members were presented to the King. There was a parade of nations, declaration of opening, Olympic torch arrival, choral singing and Olympic oath swearing. Held in the afternoon.

Called Isles of Wonder, film director Danny Boyle's £27m spectacular will feature 10,000 volunteers recreating pastoral scenes amid farmyard animals and landmarks such as Glastonbury Tor. Held at night.

Stadia

The Great Stadium, White City

First purpose-built Olympic stadium erected north of Shepherd's Bush, west London, on site known later as White City. The Franco-British Exhibition paid £60,000 (£5.7m today) for the 70,000-seater. First purpose-built 100m Olympic swimming pool, marked into lanes, also built.

Wembley Stadium in 1948

In austere times, it was a case of adapt and make-do. With no new venues built, Wembley Stadium was given a temporary track. An ice-rink on the site of the old Empire Pool, where Wembley Arena now lies, was converted back into a pool, and a boxing ring built on supports in the middle.

Olympic Stadium in Stratford, east London

The London 2012 Stadium cost £500m to construct and will host athletics as well as the opening and closing ceremonies. Seats 80,000 during Games but capacity will be reduced afterwards. Roof made of PVC not steel or concrete to keep environmental impact and costs down.

Cost of Games

With no government involvement, organisers relied on donations and ticket sales. Games' official report estimated the entire cost was £60,000 to £80,000 (£5.7m-£7.6m today).

Despite post-war rationing, shortages and austerity, the Games were staged with a budget of £600,000 - the equivalent of £18.5m today. A profit of £10,000 was made.

Ministers say the £9.3bn cost is on budget, with a £476m contingency fund left. Original, far lower, estimates were revised in March 2007 to factor in regeneration and post-Games benefits.

Ticket price

Exhibition organisers were criticised for high fixed prices and empty blocks. The upper row cost two shillings and sixpence (the equivalent of £11.36 today after inflation), standing room was 6d (£5.70) and marathon tout tickets ranged from 10s to £5 (£47.35 to £473.50).

The official programme cost two shillings and sixpence (£3.85 today) and ticket prices varied. Most tickets - including opening and closing ceremonies and athletics - cost from 3/6 (£12.92) to stand to £2 2s (£64.62) for seats. Season tickets were available.

The best seats cost £2,012 for the opening ceremony and £725 for the men's 100m final, but 90% of tickets sold have been for £100 or less, two-thirds under £50 and about 25% cost £20 or less. For some events, children under 16 "paid their age" - £10 for a 10-year-old, for example.

Olympic torch

No Olympic flame - that tradition began in 1928. No torch relay until 1936, no Olympic rings until 1914 and no oath until 1920.

Torch relay arrived the night before the opening ceremony and at Wembley the next afternoon.

The Olympic torch relay has been touring the UK since 19 May 2012, taking 70 days, carried by 8,000 torchbearers.

Stand-out moment

Italian Dorando Pietri wins the 1908 marathon - but was later disqualified

When Italian Dorando Pietri staggered over the marathon finishing line, a romantic story - and iconic image - were born. After collapsing, he was helped to the line by officials, leading to US protests which were eventually upheld. The standard marathon distance of 26 miles 385 yards was first used; the course ran from near Windsor Castle.

US athlete Harrison Dillard jumps a hurdle in training

US hurdler Harrison "Bones" Dillard only chose to enter the 100m sprint after failing to qualify in his own event - then caused a major upset. He and teammate Barney Ewell both clocked 10.3 secs but judges awarded Dillard the gold after studying photos. It was the first time a photo-finish camera had been used in an Olympiad. Dillard won a second gold in the 400m relay.

Roger Federer

With so much on offer, it is hard to pick a potentially history defining moment, but record-tying, seven-time Wimbledon champion Roger Federer will be a big draw. The Swiss maestro is looking for his first singles gold in his fourth Games. Gold for Britain's Andy Murray would help ease the pain of his SW19 defeat by Federer earlier this month.

Sporting records

100m 10.8 secs (Reggie Walker, SA)

Marathon 2h 55m 18.4s (Johnny Hayes, US)

1500m freestyle swimming 22m 28.4s(Henry Taylor, GBR)

100m 10.3 secs (Harrison Dillard, US)

Marathon 2h 34m 51s (Delfo Cabrera, ARG)

1500m freestyle 19m 18.5s (James McClean, US)

100m 9.69 secs (Usain Bolt, JAM, 2008)

Marathon 2h 06m 32s (Sammy Wanjiru, KEN, 2008

1500 freestyle 14m 38.92s (Grant Hackett, AUS, 2008)

British medals

Of the 146 won, 56 were gold - an all time record for the team.

A total haul of 23 medals - three gold - put Britain in 12th place.

At Beijing, 2008, Team GB netted 47 - 19 gold - and finished fourth.

Sponsors

Oxo was the official caterer, providing competitors with a free Oxo drink flask, rice pudding, raisins, bananas, soda and milk.

Coca-Cola, Player's cigarettes and Martell brandy. Coopers gentlemen's outfitters

gave a free pair of Y-fronts to every man in the British team.

As well as 11 global sponsors such as Coca-Cola, the main domestic ones are: Adidas, BMW, BP, British Airways, BTL, ED and Lloyds TSB.

Hero of Games

British swimmer Henry Taylor

Swimmer Henry Taylor, of Oldham, was the last Briton to win three gold medals in one Games before cyclist Chris Hoy in 2008. Despite winning the 400m freestyle, 1500m and 4x200m relay, he retired unheralded to run a pub and died in 1952.

Fanny Blankers-Koen

Mother-of-two Fanny Blankers-Koen, 30, of the Netherlands, won gold in the 100m, 200m and 80m hurdles and a fourth running the anchor leg in the 400m relay. The "flying housewife" was voted Female Athlete of the Century in 1999. She died in 2004, aged 85.

Usaine Bolt at the 2008 Beijing Olympics

Most eyes will be on Jamaican Usain Bolt, who will be looking to improve on his world record in the 100m sprint final and retain Olympic gold. Four-time Olympic champion Michael Johnson believes Bolt can run 100m in 9.4 seconds - but only if he refines his style.

Media

With no radio or TV, organisers relied on posters, newspapers and magazines to publicise the Games.

Games broadcast on radio to 58 countries and watched on TV by 500,000 in the UK.

Four billion people globally are expected to watch the opening ceremony on an array of different media.

Athletes' housing

There was no "athletes' village" and competitors were put up in hotels and boarding houses. Visitors were given access to the grounds, pool, gym and boathouse of London's Polytechnic Institute.

Visitors mostly housed in RAF barracks, although some schools were used in Middlesex and Buckinghamshire. Women stayed in hotels and homes in Eccleston Square, SW1, with four beds to a room.

The £712m athletes' village covers 36 hectares and has 2,818 apartments in 11 separate plots. The social hub, called the Globe, has a soft drinks only bar, DJ sounds and relaxed surroundings.

Controversies

Finnish athletes told to march under the Russian flag chose not to carry a flag at all, and some Irish athletes ordered to compete on behalf of Britain withdrew. In the 400m final, a US runner was disqualified for blocking and two compatriots withdrew. The other competitor - Briton Wyndham Halswelle - won by running round the track by himself.

The Games followed a 12-year hiatus because of WWII, and Germany and Japan were not invited while the USSR abstained. Marie Provaznikova, president of the International Gymnastics Federation in Czechoslovakia, was the first political defection of the Olympics, refusing to return home, citing "lack of freedom" after the country's inclusion in the Soviet Bloc.

At the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the torch relay was disrupted by protests against China's human rights record. The main controversy so far of London 2012 has centred on security. It emerged that 3,500 extra servicemen - on top of 7,500 already committed - are needed for venue security as contractor G4S did not have enough trained security staff.

Average price of a pint of beer in a pub?

2d (pence)

6d (pence)

£3.17

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