Saturday, August 18, 2012

Olympics: History of the Modern Games: 2012 London

The 2012 Summer Olympics took place in London, United Kingdom. Around 10,500 athletes from 204 National Olympic Committees (NOCs) took part.

The Games were officially opened by Queen Elizabeth II, accompanied by Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. The opening ceremony was called "Isles of Wonder" and directed by Danny Boyle. The official BARB ratings give the opening ceremony a rating of 24.24 million viewers, the highest audience for any British television broadcast since 1996.

During the Opening Ceremony, the theme tune to Chariots of Fire was performed by the London Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Simon Rattle. The performance was accompanied by a comedic skit by Rowan Atkinson which included the opening beach-running footage from the film.

The host broadcaster was Olympic Broadcasting Services (OBS), an agency of the IOC. It used its own cameras, and crews subcontracted from other Olympic broadcasters, to cover the events. The base video and audio were sold to other broadcasters, who added their own commentary and presentation.

The Olympic medals were designed by David Watkins. Virtually all the gold, silver and copper was mined in Salt Lake County, Utah in the U.S. Each medal weighs 375–400 g (13.2–14.1 oz), has a diameter of 85 mm (3.34 in) and is 7 mm (0.27 in) thick, with the sport and discipline engraved on the rim.The obverse features Nike, the Greek goddess of victory, stepping from the Panathinaiko Stadium with Parthenon in the background; the reverse features the Games logo, the River Thames and a series of lines representing "the energy of athletes and a sense of pulling together".

Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Brunei entered female athletes for the first time, meaning every country has sent a female competitor to at least one Olympic Games. Women's boxing was included as a sport and every sport had female competitors.

There are four special Olympic flags that differ from all others in that they have a 6-coloured fringe. Such a flags will be displayed in the City of London. The flag was presented to Boris Johnson the mayor during the Beijing closing ceremony.

The official mascots were animations called Wenlock and Mandeville depicting two drops of steel from a steelworks in Bolton. They are named after the Shropshire town of Much Wenlock, which held a forerunner of the current Olympic Games, and Stoke Mandeville, a village in Buckinghamshire where a forerunner to the Paralympic Games were first held. The designs were generally greeted with some disdain.

To further commemorate the Games the Mint issued a new set of 50 pence coins. The coins each feature one of 29 sports on the reverse and have been designed by people from England and Wales.The designers ranged from a Manchester policeman and a delivery driver from Reading to a bank clerk from Preston and a Bristol schoolgirl. The 50 pence pieces feature well-known sports such as sailing, swimming and basketball, but also lesser-known disciplines including handball and the Paralympic sport boccia.

Michael Phelps became the most decorated Olympic athlete of all time, winning his 22nd medal.

There have been several controversies during the lead-up to the Games, including sponsorship, the athletes' use of social media, and several political issues. Although thousands of people failed to secure seats for the events they wanted following a complicated lottery process, a large number of empty seats were observed during the first days, including at some of the most popular events. This was speculated to be due to corporate sponsors who had been provided with tickets but weren’t using them fully.

It was announced prior to the Summer Games that half of all the competitors were tested for drugs, with 150 scientists set to take 6,000 samples between the start of the Games and the end of the Paralympic Games. In addition, every competitor who won a medal was also tested. The Olympic anti-doping laboratory tested up to 400 samples every day for more than 240 prohibited substances.

The closing ceremony of the London 2012 Summer Olympics was held on 12 August 2012. In addition to protocol, the ceremony featured a flashback fiesta to British music with The Who finishing out the performance. The ceremony also included a handover of the Olympic flag by Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, to Eduardo Paes, Mayor of Rio de Janeiro, the host city of the 2016 Summer Olympics.

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