London Olympics: How did the Games do?

 
Spectators walk to and from the Olympic stadium Organisers of the London 2012 Olympics were faced with a raft of challenges ahead of the Games.

The announcement that London would host the 2012 Olympics was followed by intense speculation about the how well equipped the city was to host the Games.

But how did predictions compare with the reality? Our correspondents give their verdicts.

Brand UK

Mark Easton, Home editor

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BBC home editor Mark Easton

We have... presented Britain as self-confident”

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Forecast: We had been warned to expect travel chaos, security meltdown and organisational incompetence.

Verdict: When a coach driver got lost bringing athletes to the Olympic Park, it seemed as though Britain was lining up for at least a bronze in bungling.

But it didn't happen. In fact, the teams of pandemonium correspondents assigned around the capital were forced to kick their heels or quickly develop an understanding of the finer points of dressage.

There were those who predicted London 2012 would be an embarrassing and chaotic two weeks during which all the flaws of our declining nation would be exposed. Brand GB would be horribly undermined and this country's reputation and prospects damaged for decades.

As it turned out, we not only massively exceeded expectations in the sports arenas and won universal plaudits for hosting a brilliant games, we have also presented Britain as self-confident, forward-looking and fun.

That, I suspect, has been as much a surprise to the watching world as it has been to some justifiably proud Brits.

Sport

David Bond, sports editor

Forecast: UK Sport had invested £300m in Olympic and Paralympic sports and athletes in the past four years. It had set a minimum target of 48 medals for Great Britain's athletes and a top four finish in the medal table. After seven years of build-up, the level of international pressure on Britain was intense.

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David Bond

Sports such as wrestling, basketball, handball and volleyball may find they are struggling to receive the same level of funding”

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Verdict: Team GB won a staggering 64 medals, 29 of them gold. The best performance of the modern era and arguably of all time. We all expected the rowers and cyclists to come good but the big question was always going to focus on whether Great Britain could deliver more medals across more sports. The statistic that 16 different sports delivered medals here tells you they did.

Of course, not everything has gone to script for every sport. Swimming missed their medal targets and an internal review is under way.

There are also bound to be some questions asked about athletics. Mo Farah, Jessica Ennis and Greg Rutherford produced that dazzling, golden 45 minutes in the Olympic Stadium with Farah repeating his exploits in the 5,000m a week later.

But there were also some disappointing performances - capped perhaps by the men's sprint relay team dropping the baton again. Head coach Charles Van Commenee missed his own target of eight medals by two. Other sports such as wrestling, basketball, handball and volleyball may find they are struggling to receive the same level of funding in the run-up to the Rio Games in 2016.

But some of the most memorable moments came not in sporting triumph but in the taking part. Double-amputee Oscar Pistorius broke new ground just by competing in the Games - the first paralympian to do so on the track - and every one of the 204 countries sent a delegation which included female athletes.

Security

Gordon Corera, security correspondent

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BBC security correspondent Gordon Corera

The military stepped into the breach quickly and efficiently”

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Forecast: Security concerns always loomed over the London Olympics and some of the steps taken - including the missiles on rooftops - were questioned. There were fears just weeks before the Games began when private security contractor G4S admitted it would be unable to provide enough security guards, forcing the military to step in.

Verdict: Terrorists struck London the day after the city won the Games, prompting an enormous amount of preparation that cost at least £1bn. But the Games have taken place remarkably peacefully. There were no terrorist threats - that we know of - and surprisingly few lower level security problems, such as disruption by protesters. This is apart from the odd bottle thrown at the track and some lost keys.

Planners believe some of the high-profile coverage of the security preparations, like the missiles, may have helped by acting as a deterrent.

The military stepped into the breach quickly and efficiently, meaning that there have been few complaints about long queues to get past checks at venues.

The people who had been paid for years to worry about security at the Olympics will now be breathing a huge sigh of relief that everyone was able to focus on the sport.

Business

Richard Anderson, business producer

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Major sporting events rarely bring lasting financial reward”

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Forecast: To leave an economic legacy worth £13bn to the UK economy over the next four years.

Verdict: Retailers were hoping for an Olympic bonanza and most have been left sorely disappointed.

Many small businesses across London have criticised the Games' organisers and Transport for London for scaring off shoppers. Footfall was noticeably down during the first week of the Games. Anecdotal evidence suggests a similar picture across the UK. Numbers picked up during the second week, with bigger retailers reporting higher sales, but no-one is expecting to see a major pick-up in consumer spending.

It will be another four years before we know whether the government's longer-term legacy targets for the Games will be met, but the experience of previous host cities suggests they are a little optimistic.

Most economists agree major sporting events rarely bring lasting financial reward. The government will have its work cut out to buck the trend.

Transport

Richard Westcott, transport correspondent

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BBC transport correspondent Richard Westcott

Even Heathrow was fine”

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Forecast: Everyone predicted disruption to the transport network during the Games. London's transport system was written off as too old, and plagued by injury.

Verdict: The transport system actually worked. Some £6.5bn was spent patching up wounds on Tube and train lines and people just went another way. More people travelled, but they were scattered over different parts of the day.

The system was busy. The Tube kept smashing its own record for carrying passengers, with four and a half million journeys on the busiest days. There were also record numbers using the Docklands Light Railway, which was 70% busier than usual. Numbers on the London Overground were up 27% and the Barclays bike hire scheme broke records too. Even Heathrow was fine.

There were some problems, of course. The main roads coming into London were bad because of all the changes to the way the traffic lights were phased. Various rail lines suffered delays and suspensions, including the Central line, the Jubilee line and the DLR, all of which went to the Olympic Park.

Spectators

Claire Heald, BBC 2012

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BBC 2012 reporter Claire Heald

People came, saw, enjoyed”

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Forecast: The Olympics were exciting, but tickets were hard to secure, a plague of people would bring meltdown to London, the biggest burger chain outlet sat ill in a theatre of sport and, amid stringent rules, the British would fail to get picnics in.

Verdict: The Games transformed the Olympic Park and, during free events like the triathlon, the centre of London. They created a festival of sport for spectators. There were queues for water fountains and for food, but the queues to pass through security moved quickly.

Prices at this mass event were above street average at £5 for a pasty, £4.30 for a bottle of beer and £2.50 for an ice cream. But people could bring their sandwiches and picnicked on the parklands.

More tickets were released online but they were still hard to come by, with up to 2.5m people trying to access them.

The sight of empty seats at venues enraged those who had been unable to get in. Try to find anyone at the Olympics with a bad word to say about it, however, and you would have searched long. It was awash with colour from decorated fans clad in international colours and union flags.

People came, saw, enjoyed and it lifted them, as well as the national mood.

Doping

Michelle Roberts, BBC news online health editor

Forecast: The anti-doping authorities were prepared to take a tough stance on drug cheats, promising to banish any athlete found to be taking performance-enhancing drugs. London's anti-doping lab was hailed as the most high-tech in the history of the Olympics. And it was the first summer Games to use biological passports - ongoing electronic records of any substances found in an athlete's blood to confirm that they are "clean".

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It appears that the extra checks were necessary and the problem of doping may be getting worse, not better”

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Verdict: If you measure success as keeping drugs out of the competition then the authorities lived up to their pre-Games promise.

The International Olympic Committee carried out more than 5,000 drugs tests during the Games. Syria's 400-metres hurdler Ghfran Almouhamad was disqualified after testing positive for a banned substance called methylhexaneamine. Another 10 athletes were also banned from taking part because of failed drugs tests.

Suspicion spread wide, so much so that when 16-year-old swimmer Ye Shiwen set a new world record for the women's 400m individual medley a cry of foul play was raised even though the young swimmer had passed all of the checks.

And when you compare the figures with the 2008 Beijing Olympics, it appears that the extra checks were necessary and the problem of doping may be getting worse, not better. At Beijing six athletes failed the IOC's drug-testing regime.

All the drug test results for London's games aren't in yet, which means athletes who fail testing could still be stripped of their titles - as Belarusian women's shot put gold medallist Nadzeya Ostapchuk has just discovered.

Weather

Claire Douglas, BBC Weather

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There should be at least a small space on the podium for the Great British weather”

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Forecast: After the wettest start to summer on record in southeast England, with more than double the usual amount of rainfall, you could be forgiven for thinking hopes for a sunny Olympic Games were not high.

Verdict: In the lead up to the Opening Ceremony there were a few light showers, but thunderstorms that had worried forecasters stayed away to the east. Some very 'British' summer weather followed - breezy, showery and slightly cool for the time of year.

For the thousands of athletes and spectators in and around London, the weather performed pretty well. Not many gold medals for warm sunshine until the last weekend, but the vast majority of events were unaffected by any weather-related delays or cancellations.

London was mostly rain-free; however there were plenty of heavy showers and even some flooding across other parts of the UK. Temperatures were near or slightly below average, meaning heat stress was not a problem for either athletes or spectators.

With a mix of sunshine, a few showers, and just the right amount of breeze, there should be at least a small space on the podium for the Great British weather.

Sustainability

Richard Black, environment correspondent

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Richard Black

The biggest climate impact of any Olympics comes through the necessity of flying”

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Forecast: Most "green" issues were clear ahead of time, although there was talk that air quality might suffer owing to extra Olympics-related traffic.

Verdict: A number of reports concluded that the London Olympics lived up to their pre-race billing as the "greenest ever games". Novel building materials and techniques were deployed to minimise use of natural resources, everything from steel to water was recycled, and the use of temporary arenas reduced the carbon footprint of heavy construction.

The greenest part of the legacy is local. The area where the Olympic Park now stands used to be a wasteland of fetid drains, derelict factories and polluted ground. As well as cleaning it all up, the authorities have re-tooled the waterways into wildlife habitat, running between the upper Lee valley and the Thames. Birds and small mammals should enjoy the new green spaces as much as people.

Amid all the low-carbon hype surrounding London, however, it shouldn't be forgotten that the biggest climate impact of any Olympics comes through the necessity of flying thousands of competitors and officials half way round the world to take part - not to mention the thousands more who come to support them.

 

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  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 30.

    Converted doubter but thoroughly enjoyed it what right has Jessie j to even be on a stage with Brian May and John Taylor should have had Freddie Mercury on film like John Lennon

  • rate this
    +7

    Comment number 29.

    Lets not forget it's not over... we have our Paralympic tickets and cannot wait to go and cheer on TeamGB again!

  • rate this
    -22

    Comment number 28.

    Imagine £14 billion invested in sport in the schools...

  • rate this
    -16

    Comment number 27.

    The only way a genuine Olympic legacy will evolve is if the social and economic issues that blight Britain are addressed and dealt with, such as child poverty, people trafficking and tax avoidance.

  • rate this
    +23

    Comment number 26.

    I hate sports on TV, hate it. So imagine my surprise to find myself turning the TV on every morning in anticipation of Olympics coverage. I loved it, and despite fearing the worst, the country and Team GB managed the best. We should all be proud of what the world has seen over the last two weeks. If only countries could now get on with each other as well as the athletes representing them did!

  • rate this
    +48

    Comment number 25.

    The regeneration of Stratford
    Thousands of affordable homes
    New and heavily upgraded rail networks
    New athletics stadium
    New Olympic sized pool for London
    New velodrome
    Environmentally-friendly waterways and greenland
    Amazing performances by our athletes
    Great publicity for brand GB
    A nation feeling rightly proud
    A generation inspired
    And Boris stuck on a zip wire
    £9b - I'd say we got it cheap...

  • rate this
    +8

    Comment number 24.

    Well done London - roll on Glasgow 2014!!

  • rate this
    +9

    Comment number 23.

    Reading these comments brings a tear to my eye. Proud. So proud.

  • rate this
    +12

    Comment number 22.

    A thoroughly enjoyable Games, from the torch relay to our last amazing gold medal. This is one very proud Brit and even prouder Londoner - still the greatest city in the world! Much gratitude to the awesome volunteers such as 19.Frank. Great job.

  • rate this
    +32

    Comment number 21.

    I was confident but not in my wildest dreams did I expect us to be so good, so organised, so spectacularly successful, so cool, so hip.

    We we're only supposed to blow the bloody doors off.

  • rate this
    +14

    Comment number 20.

    Prior to the millennium large amounts were spent to ensure computer systems would continue to function. Doom sayers predicted massive crashes and disasters.
    Roll over 1 Jan 2000 and "nothing" happened. So was all that expense was a waste of money or did "nothing" happened because of the work that went on?
    Same here, it went well because of the preparations and hard work.
    Congratulations to all.

  • rate this
    +44

    Comment number 19.

    Unbelievable! 7 years ago I was a doubter, sure we'd do a half-arsed job. Over time I came to believe in the games - so much so that I volunteered to become a Gamesmaker; just to do my bit. And it's been 17 wonderous days, even if many of them involved getting up at 03:40 to start my shift before the athletes arrived. I didn't think I could be so proud of my country, my city and myself.

  • rate this
    -11

    Comment number 18.

    London 2012 was well organised, well managed and well presented. A bit too well presented as too much can be just as bad as too little and sometimes it became repetitive, overtly political and jingoistic. The closing ceremony was for the most part excellent but Timothy Spall doing Churchill was corny and a rather wooden and ageing Roger Daltry and the Who a bad mistake. Overall, 8.5 out of 10.0

  • rate this
    +25

    Comment number 17.

    Another converted doubter, a great big thank you to all involved, a great spectacle to be proud off, so many people enjoying themselves.
    Proud to be British.

    One legacy I would like to see, is for journalists now to concentrate on what has happened, rather than predicting doom and despondancy in the future because of what may happen.

  • rate this
    +69

    Comment number 16.

    One of the more intangible legacies of the Games might lie within the media itself. You see, chaps, there's quite a large section of the British public that doesn't like your constant carping and fear-mongering. When the viewing figures for the opening made it clear that people felt upbeat and you were wrong to moan, and again when medals were won, you all changed your tune. Editors, take note.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 15.

    @6

    Harry is short for Henry - he is officially Prince Henry

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 14.

    7.
    Baron_Silas_Greenback
    5 Minutes ago

    I was one of the doubters, but was very pleasantly surprised and enjoyed the coverage I saw - even if they did get Prince Harry's name wrong during the closing ceremony. :o)

    Tsk Tsk Harry, oddly, is the diminutive form of Henry.

  • rate this
    -34

    Comment number 13.

    It's interesting to note that the article is titled 'London Olympics' despite the different events taking place throughout Britain.
    Also the only way a true Olympic legacy will evolve is if the social and economic injustices that blight Britain are addressed and dealt with.

  • rate this
    +28

    Comment number 12.

    Well done to LOCOG, and to Lord Coe in particular, for delivering a memorable and hugely enjoyable games.

  • rate this
    +34

    Comment number 11.

    Much better than I expected, and a gold medal to the BBC for the massive diversity of their i-player coverage. I largely watched Olympics on my computer, focussing on football, (men's and women's) and the sailing. Others could have had archery and water polo, or many others, to taste.
    Superb.
    And a genuine surprise.

 

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