About this Article
Written by: Jack Cheap
Written on: May 2nd, 2010
Tags: building & architecture, civil engineering, security & defense, transportation
Thumbnail by: ODA/London 2012
About the Author
Jack Cheap is a student at USC majoring in Industrial and Systems Engineering. He participates in USC's Institute of Industrial Engineers and has interned for the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and PwC's Advisory Practice team.
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Volume XII Issue III > An Engineer’s Perspective: London’s Preparation for the 2012 Olympic Games
The Olympic Games are the world’s largest international athletic competition. Every two years, viewers from around the globe tune in to the Olympics to cheer on their nations’ most celebrated athletes. The heroic athletic performances of the Olympics will always be remembered, but what is often forgotten is the incredible preparation effort completed by each host city. London is the latest city to be crowned as an Olympic host and is already well into preparations for the 2012 Olympic Games. Engineers from all disciplines are at the heart of the effort and will play a crucial role in ensuring the London Olympics run smoothly, in hopes that London be portrayed as a modern, majestic city. Specifically, engineers are focusing on the preparation of the Olympic Park site, construction of housing and athletic facilities, improvement of London’s transportation infrastructure, and integration of preventative measures against possible terrorism threats.


Every two years, the eyes of billions from around the globe descend upon one city to watch the world’s greatest international athletics event: The Olympic Games. In the winter of 2010, we intently watched as the world’s top athletes gathered in Vancouver to compete in and celebrate international competition. In light of the recent Games, we look forward to the next exhilarating gathering of the crème de la crème of international athletes, this time in 2012 in London, England, for the Summer Olympic Games (see Fig. 1), officially known as the Games of the XXX Olympiad.
In 2005, London outlasted some of the world’s greatest cities in Olympic host city voting, including Paris and New York City, and was named the host of the 2012 Olympic Games, immediately leading to parties and celebrations breaking out all across the United Kingdom. In the days that followed, engineers broke ground on Olympic preparations.
ODA/London 2012
Figure 1: A CGI render showing a internal view of the proposed Olympic Stadium.
At the center of the celebrations and competition among the world’s great cities is the fundamental question: Why do cities care so much about hosting the Olympic Games? Aside from the obvious excitement of having the world’s greatest athletes on your home turf, the Olympics have the potential to revitalize an entire city, and even country. Olympic spending has skyrocketed in recent years, with the estimated spending of the 2012 London Olympics ($12 billion) being approximately 150 times greater the Olympic spending by Los Angeles in 1984 ($75 million) (see Fig. 2).
Figure 2: A Quick Glance at Olympic Spending by Host City.
Countries take advantage of hosting the Olympics to improve their own infrastructure, kick start their economies, and carry out civil projects that never would have happened otherwise. No other event can demand the world’s attention like the Olympics can, and for that reason countries today pour billions of dollars into the Olympic preparation effort to ensure their city draws the awe of the world for a magical two and a half week competition.
However, before hosting the grandeur that is the Olympic Games, London must carry out an incredible preparation plan. We will now explore London’s preparation in four key areas: choosing the Olympic Park site, constructing new facilities, improving transportation infrastructure, and combating terrorism. Furthermore, we will discuss how engineers are truly at the heart of each and every aspect of the preparation.