Being the centrepiece of the Games event, the stadium will host the spectacular opening and closing ceremonies, as well as some iconic Games events. With the capacity of 80 000 seats, it is currently the third largest stadium in Britain, and as its construction is flexible, it will be later reduced in size.
The stadium is located in London’s Stratford district in the Lower Lea Valley on an ‘island’ site, surrounded by waterways on three sides. Spectators will reach the venue by five bridges that link the site to the surrounding area. Facilities for athletes within the stadium include changing rooms, medical support facilities and a 60-metre warm-up track. After the Games, a part of the stadium will be dismantled and its capacity reduced. The stadium will retain athletics at its core, and also be a venue for other sport, cultural and community events. In 2015 it will host the 2015 IAAF World Championships and in 2017 World Championships in Athletics. The construction of the stadium cost £537 million.
The stadium was constructed in the idea of ‘sustainable development’ – with minimal use of construction materials (with 4 times less steel than the stadium in Beijing), and employing recycled elements, namely large diameter gas pipes and recycled granite. The construction was completed within three years and has received mixed response.
The stadium has a permanent lower tier with a capacity of 25,000, and a temporary steel and concrete upper tier, which may accommodate further 55,000 spectators, and can be dismantled after the events. The temporary upper tier means that facilities such as catering and toilets normally found inside sports stadia have been located outside the stadium. The lower tier lies within a bowl in the ground, which minimises the use of construction materials. This bowl was made by excavating 800,000 tonnes of soil, most of which was cleaned and reused elsewhere on the Park nearby. About 10,000 tonnes of steel were used to build the venue – significantly less than in other stadia, making the construction more sustainable.
A total cast of 15,000 will take part in the opening and closing ceremonies, which will be watched by an estimated audience of four billion.
The opening ceremony is a spectacular celebration showing the best of the host nation. It features a parade of all competing nations (204 expected teams this year) and the highly anticipated entrance of the ancient Flame, which ignites the cauldron and commences the competition. After this moment, competition in 26 sports and 39 disciplines is going to begin. The opening ceremony show is entitled ‘Isles of Wonder’ and will be directed by Oscar-winning director Danny Boyle. It will be broadcast worlwide, starting at 9pm. The ceremony will begin with the sound of the largest harmonically tuned bell in Europe. Then the stadium will be transformed into British countryside for the opening scene ‘Green and Pleasant’, which features real farmyard animals. The ceremony will also show a special sequence celebrating the best of British and featuring volunteer performers from the NHS. The closing ceremony celebrates the achievements of athletes, and includes a handover from the host city to the next one – this time it will be to Rio de Janeiro for the 2016 Games. The ceremony will include a march of the athletes, artistic events and extinguishing the Flame, signalling the end of the competition. The closing ceremony is entitled ‘A Symphony of British Music’ to celebrate the fact that music has been one of Britain’s greatest cultural exports within last 50 years.
Athletics at the 2012 Games is scheduled to be held during the last 10 days of the tournament, from 3 August to 12August. The competition will see around 2000 athletes competing in 47 events with men and women having very similar schedule of events.
The events at the stadium include 13 running races at different distances (100, 200, 400, 800, 1500, 5000 and 10 000 metres, 100 metres hurdles, 3000 metres steeplechase, 4×100 metres relay race, 4×400 metres relay race, and the marathon run), long jump, triple jump, high jump, pole vault, shot put, discus throw, javelin throw, hammer throw and decathlon (for man – women compete in heptathlon).