The 2012 Olympic Games

An athletic tradition that began in Ancient Greece comes to London for two weeks

Jul 20, 2012 | By Julien Hawthorne
ANDREW COWIE—AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Next week, all eyes will turn to England. After more than seventy years, the Olympic games will return to London for a third time. From July 27 to August 12, more than 10,000 of the world’s finest athletes from 205 nations will compete for gold medals in 26 sports, ranging from archery to wresting and everything in between. 

The Summer Olympics happen every four years, and are considered the world’s most important sports competition. Nearly nine million people are expected to flock to the newly-designed Olympic Park in east London to witness a tradition dating back to 775 B.C. Many athletes train for years to compete, and international glory waits for those who win.

Then and Now

The 2012 Olympics in London will be the 30th Summer Olympics since the event was revived in 1896. The first Olympics were held in ancient Olympia, Greece, and had only one event: the “foot race.” 

This year’s Olympics will have 302 events. London’s Olympic committee spent nearly seven years preparing for the Olympics after it won the opportunity to host the Games in 2005. The city constructed an Olympic Park nearly one square mile in size, which includes nine of the 34 Olympic stadiums, and built 30 high-speed trains for the new Olympic Javelin shuttle service, which can carry 240,000 passengers every hour to the Olympic Park.

What To Expect

The Olympics will continue to respect and build on tradition, this year adding women’s boxing to the slate of events. New technology will be introduced, including cameras that can capture 2,000 images per second and broadcast in 3D. 

What will remain constant is the miracle that is the Olympics. The Games are a time when countries will put aside differences and come together for two weeks to engage in the highest level of athletic competition. New rivalries will be born. But more importantly, friendship and respect among athletes, spectators and nations will also emerge.

Click here to view slide shows of some new and returning athletes competing in the London Games.

For more, keep up with the Games on TFK’s Olympic mini-site, timeforkids.com/olympics2012.