Olympic Stadium History

Today’s guest post is from across the pond!  Colin is from the United Kingdom – a professional British writer and occasional runner with a passion for sports and history. 


First of all I am going to use “stadiums” as the plural of stadium. There is a school of
thought that says the correct plural is “stadia”… but life’s too short to get into the
trenches over that issue!

The Olympic Stadium is the name that is usually associated with the largest centre-piece
stadium used for summer (as opposed to winter) Olympic games. The winter Olympic
games doesn’t use a centre-piece stadium for the events, although sometimes the opening
and closing ceremonies are held in a stadium such as a skating rink, that will be called the
Olympic Stadium just for those purposes.

For the summer Olympics, the Olympic stadium will usually host the main track and
field events. Usually once a country has been invited to host a future Olympics, they will
begin preparing facilities, sometimes including the construction of on Olympic stadium,
sometimes housed in an Olympic park.

The construction or refurbishment of a stadium to get it up to Olympic standards is only
part of the complex logistics required to host the Olympic games successfully. As the
number of events included in the Games has grown, more and larger facilities have to
be readied. As the event is always one that evokes feelings of national pride among the
citizens of the host country, every effort is made to make sure they are successful.

Then transport infrastructure has to be able to accommodate a huge influx of people into
an area to take part in, officiate, or watch the games. Even in a gigantic metropolis like
London, there are concerns as to whether the transport system will become overloaded at
peak times, and cause delays to those wanting to see or return home from the games, as
well as all those going about their usual non-Olympic business.

The first Olympic Stadium to be constructed from scratch was the White City Stadium
in London, for the 1908 Olympic games. Why are we not using it for the London Olympic
Games? It was demolished in 1984, after being used first for Greyhound racing (not an
Olympic sport!) and then for motorcycle Speedway racing.

The most recent new Olympic Stadium, apart from the one just completed in London, is
the one constructed for the Beijing Olympics, known as the Bird’s Nest.

The 2016 Olympics, to be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, will use the existing Maracana

Many stadiums are situated within Olympic Parks, which can house additional Olympic

sporting facilities and provide open space, along with restaurant and other facilities.

One of the issues has been to make sure that any area where an Olympic stadium has been
built, and regenerated, remains regenerated after the games have been and gone. This is
particularly important given that to host an Olympic games is very expensive, particularly
if an Olympic Stadium and a park has had to be built. Given these bad economic times, it
remains to be seen whether London 2012 can be a model for hosting games and not ending
up in debt and with a ghost stadium that is rarely used. But so much thought and effort has
been input that I strongly suspect that not only will the games be a success, but that the Olympic Park and stadium will continue to flourish for years to come!

More information on the London Olympics here!


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