London Olympic venues will host the majority of the sporting events at the 2012 Games. Although there are a few areas outside the city that will be home to preliminary rounds of soccer, for instance, most sports will be in the city, often centered on the new Olympic Park. The games will make use of both temporary and existing facilities, as well as newly built venues, to host the games. Some of the temporary facilities will be located in historic places such as Hyde Park and the Horse Guards Parade in Central London, while new facilities are often part of plans for future public parks and community sports centers. In addition to Olympic Park and the Olympic Stadium in East London, there are several other Olympic venues in London, including the O2 Arena, Greenwich Park, the Lord’s Cricket Ground, and Earl’s Court.
The O2 Arena is a multipurpose dome-shaped indoor facility located in Greenwich, in southeast London. It is mostly known for hosting major concerts, and alongside the Belgrade Arena and the MEN Arena in Manchester, it is one of the largest indoor facilities in Europe, with a seating capacity of 23,000. During the 2012 London Olympics, the O2 Arena will be the venue for the artistic gymnastics competitions and will have a temporary capacity of 16,500, and it will also host the basketball finals, for which there will be 20,000 seats available.
ExCeL Exhibition Centre
The ExCeL Exhibition Centre London is another multipurpose facility in the city. Located in East London's historic Royal Victoria Dock near the Canary Wharf and City Airport, this facility is well known for hosting public and private events such as trade shows. There are five on-site hotels with a total of 1,500 rooms available, making this a convenient place to be for any Olympic events. For the 2012 games, an array of indoor sports will be held at the ExCeL Exhibition Centre, including fencing, table tennis, wrestling, weightlifting, judo, tae kwon do, and boxing. The arena will be divided into four sports halls, each with a seating capacity between 6,000 and 10,000 seats. With the eye-catching waterfront and beautiful Royal Victoria Dock nearby, there are plenty of reasons to visit this location and watch the games take place.
One of the most famous historic locations in Central London, Hyde Park has been open to Londoners since 1637. It is one of the largest public parks in London and is home to numerous sports clubs; in addition, there are numerous hotels within walking distance and easy access to shopping areas and restaurants. At the 2012 Olympics, there will be temporary venues created in the park to host the 10-kilometer open water swim and the triathlon, as well as different cultural events throughout the summer.
Home to England’s national soccer team, Wembley Stadium will be one of the most well-known historic Olympic venues in London. With a seating capacity of 90,000 and a retractable, the stadium will host the 2012 soccer finals. The site of England’s 1966 World Cup victory, Wembley is sure to be popular among soccer fans from around the world for its historic value, in addition to the excitement of the 2012 games.
Part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Greenwich Park is the oldest royal park in London and is home to the National Maritime Museum and the Old Royal Naval College. Located on the south bank of the Thames, the park is hosting the Olympic equestrian events, as well as the modern pentathlon and the Paralympic equestrian competitions. The park’s temporary facilities, which include a cross-country course for the equestrian events, will have a seating capacity of 23,000.
Lord's Cricket Ground
The Lord's Cricket ground regularly hosts one-day international cricket matches. Located in St John’s Wood, in northwest London, the venue has been open since 1814. For the 2012 Olympics, the cricket ground will host the archery events. It will have a capacity of only 6,500 seats, fewer than other Olympic venues promise, but the intimate atmosphere and good views will be hard to beat.
The Earls Court opened in 1937 and since then has been used for concerts, exhibitions, and conferences. Located in West London, near the Victoria and Albert Museum, Earls Court will be one of the temporary Olympic venues in London. It will host the indoor volleyball matches and has a seating capacity of 18,000. Visitors can easily reach this arena via the Tube and railways, making it one of the most convenient spots for public transportation at the games.
All England Club
During the 2012 London Olympics Games, all major tennis competitions will be held at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club in Wimbledon, London. Wimbledon is popular for the grand slam tennis tournament held every year since 1877, and the All England Club provides excellent grass-court facilities. Located near the Kew Gardens and Richmond Park in southwest London, the club will have improved stands and a retractable roof over Centre Court, creating an excellent atmosphere for enjoying its Olympic events.
Horse Guards Parade
This historic venue is located in Whitehall, a short walk from Trafalgar Square and Downing Street, and has been in use since 1745. The Horse Guards Parade is easily accessed on foot or by bus, and it will host the beach volleyball competitions during the Olympics. The new venue at this historic site will have a capacity of 15,000, with sand trucked in to create London’s own beach. The location is well known for a number of military monuments, including a cast-iron Chinese dragon and several statues of famous commanders, making it an excellent place to combine sightseeing with the Olympic events.
Image: London 2012