Backstory: The London Olympics Legacy
The upcoming Summer Olympics in London isn’t the first time that the UK has been the host nation for the games. There’s an interesting and unique history to the Olympics experience in Great Britain. The first time that London, England was chosen as the host city for the Summer Olympics was way back in 1908.
The second time, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) awarded the planned 1944 Olympic Summer Games to London in June of 1939. However, a very significant unscheduled event occurred that changed those preliminary plans — that being World War II — and the 1944 games were cancelled.
Post-war London was invited to apply for the allocation of the next Summer Games, scheduled for 1948. Then in March 1946 the IOC awarded those games, once again, to London, England. Now, the upcoming London 2012 Summer Olympics will actually set a record — for the only city to host this major sporting event three times.
Preparations for the Olympic Games
While it’s likely that the current state of the European economy has meant that the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) must manage its infrastructure investment and expenses very wisely, by comparison, it’s not like the circumstances of the post-war London of 1948.
It’s reported that London’s second Olympic games experience required some unusual cost-saving measures, to help a nation that was still engaged in the long and slow economic recovery from a debilitating war. Just imagine, the visiting athletes were asked to bring their own towels to the sporting events. Now, that’s what I would call frugal.
Regardless, proving once again that the British spirit and determination will prevail, the 1948 games were considered a resounding success — with 4689 competing athletes from 59 nations around the world, that participated in a total of 136 events.
From a communication and media perspective, the 1948 games resulted in the first British television broadcast of the Olympics. However, most people who were unable to attend in person actually experienced the games via some of the most enthusiastic and vivid broadcast radio commentary of that time.
Clearly, there are several meaningful ways to interpret the legacy of the Olympic Games. There’s the historic cultural connection to Athens, Greece. Then there’s the post-event application of the sport stadiums and other related Olympic venue facilities, such as those in Utah, USA. And, taken from a broader perspective, there’s the aspirations for community regeneration and economic growth, that’s about to occur in East London.
Communications Assets for the Most Connected Olympics
This year, sixty-four years after the last time the Olympic Games were held in London, it will be a significantly different scenario. Granted, the focal point is still the sports events and the participants. It’s estimated that 14,500 athletes from over 200 countries will participate in approximately 700 events in London and in other select locations throughout Britain.
Moreover, 22,000 media representatives will be in attendance for the duration of these events to help capture and record all the personal stories and collective achievements of the athletes.
As the opening ceremony and numerous sporting events are staged, it’s anticipated that four billion people around the globe will be watching one of the many live video broadcasts or the recorded highlights — some will watch on a traditional TV set, while others will view the ongoing action on a variety of mobile devices.
As I’ve mentioned before, UK communications service provider BT Group will carry every image, every commentary, every sports report, and every visit to the London 2012 Games web site — in addition to the millions of phone calls, emails, and text messages.
There are many reasons why this year’s London Summer Olympics is being called the most connected sporting event the world has ever seen – it’s a compelling and engaging behind-the-scenes backstory. This is the first in a series of editorials where I’ll share some highlights of the noteworthy Information and Communications Technology (ICT) investments that enable these digital advances, and the organizations and people that will make it all happen.
The International Broadcast Centre (IBC) and the Main Press Centre (MPC) at the London 2012 Olympic Park will become the 24-hour hub for the world’s visiting news agencies and their media correspondents that will report on the numerous events. Next, I’ll be outlining the foundational communications network infrastructure at these facilities and other key locations.
Learn more about Cisco’s role as the official Olympic Network infrastructure provider — follow the ongoing storyline, as these stories emerge and unfold.