The 2012 Olympic venues include an assortment of historic facilities, new and existing arenas and stadiums, and popular locations such as Old Trafford and Wembley Stadium. The Stratford area of East London will be the site of the Olympic Park, a new sports complex and the central venue for both the 2012 summer Olympics and the Paralympics. With a few exceptions, specifically the early rounds of the soccer tournament, the major sporting venues will all be within the boundaries of the Greater London area.
The major 2012 Olympic venues are classified in three areas: the Central, Olympic, and River zones. The Olympic Zone is home to the 500-acre Olympic Park, which encompasses the Olympic Stadium, Hockey Centre, Velopark, and Aquatics Centre. The Olympic Park in London will also include the indoor arenas for basketball and handball, while the Olympic Village will provide accommodations to all athletes and team officials. After the games, the village will be transformed into a multi-million pound development project for the city, including housing.
The Olympic Park in London will host most of the major events, including field hockey, basketball, track and field, and swimming. With a capacity of 80,000 seats, the Olympic Stadium will also host the opening and closing ceremonies, in addition to the track events. The Aquatics Centre will host all water sports, including swimming and water polo, and the London Velopark is a 6,000-seat indoor arena that will be home to the track cycling competitions. Field hockey fans will have plenty to see in the Olympic Hockey Centre facilities, which have both 5,000- and 15,000-seat capacities. Besides major sporting facilities, the Olympic Park in London will also feature a tennis training center and the Olympic Press and Broadcasting Centre.
Spanning the River Thames, the River Zone will include four main London Olympics venues: the O2 Arena, Excel Exhibition Centre, Greenwich Park, and the historic Royal Artillery Barracks. The River Zone has the advantage of an especially scenic location, in addition to access to numerous exciting Olympic events. The O2 Arena, a multipurpose facility in southeast London, will host the gymnastics events and the basketball finals, while the Excel Exhibition Centre, located at the London Docklands, will host boxing, judo, fencing, wrestling, and table tennis. The fifteenth-century Greenwich Park, one of the most beautiful Royal Parks of London, will host the equestrian events; the park offers beautiful views of the Thames and of the city of London. The Royal Artillery Barracks, which were built between 1706 and 1902, will host shooting events. The River Zone is sure to be popular among travelers who come to the city for the combination of history and the excitement of the London Olympics.
The Central Zone 2012 Olympic venues are where to go to watch soccer, beach volleyball, and tennis. This area encompasses London Olympics venues spread across West and Central London, such as Wembley Stadium, where the gold-medal matches will be held for soccer, and the Lord’s Cricket Ground, which is hosting archery. Hyde Park, which is the largest Royal Park in London and one of the city’s most famous attractions as well, will host the triathlon. Hyde Park is in the West End, and it’s easily accessible via public transportation, in addition to being within walking distance of hotels, restaurants, and shopping areas; it has been open since 1637. Home to some of the city’s best sports clubs, such as the Serpentine Swimming club, the park is also hosting the 10K open swimming events.
Volleyball fans will find their sport at the Earls Court facility, which has been an exhibition and conference space in London since 1937. Located near the Victoria and Albert Museum and other major attractions, Earls Court has a capacity of 18,000 and is hosting the indoor tournament at the London games, before returning to its usual role once the Olympics have concluded.
Image: London 2012