What Happened To London's Giant Olympic Rings?

Hannah Foulds
By Hannah Foulds Last edited 15 months ago
What Happened To London's Giant Olympic Rings?

Hey Rio. We bet you're scratching your head wondering what to do with those humongous Olympic rings once the international crowds have all abandoned you.

London is 23% smaller than Rio and has 3% more people milling around, but despite that has still managed to squeeze these huge structures into a permanent home. Here's where.

Phtoo: Hannah Foulds.

You might be sitting on one

In the 18 months running up to the the 2012 Games, a set of rings hung majestically over St Pancras International station. After the closing ceremony, the rings were sliced up and made into colourful benches for weary travellers to perch on, inside and outside the station.

There are two sets of seating in St Pancras, one by the East Midlands Trains ticket gates and one by the Southeastern ticket gates, with a further set at each of the Southeastern ticket gate lines at Stratford International and Ebbsfleet International.

Says Wendy Spinks, Commercial Director of HS1, "The project ensured the Olympic legacy continued in the station, as the rings were something St Pancras International was extremely proud to display."

Photo: nikon_13.

Might have been turned into anything

The rings on Tower Bridge had the most pomp and ceremony surrounding them when they were unveiled in June 2012 — a month before the start of the games. They weighed three tonnes, spanned 25m wide, cost £259,817 to be produced, while the installation is said to have cost a whopping £53,000. The face of the Games, Lord Coe and London's former Mayor, Boris Johnson, were among VIPs watching the big reveal.

The takedown, alas, was far less glamorous, or indeed ceremonious. The rings were basically just sliced up for recycling. So they could be anything, and anywhere now. According to Stage One, the company responsible for installing and uninstalling the rings, the support structure had a more direct use — it was recycled and re-used as aluminium trussing, more commonly known as lighting rigs.

Photo: Hannah Foulds.

Kept for nostalgia

The Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford continues to attract people; since July 2013, it's welcomed four million visitors.

Eight venues in the park are now permanent including the ArcelorMittal Orbit (aka, the giant slide), Copper Box Arena, East Village, Here East, Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre, Lee Valley VeloPark, London Aquatics Centre and the Stadium.

Because of the park is still very much alive and kicking, the Olympic rings continue to take centre stage next to the Lee Valley VeloPark. Maybe they'll still be intact for London's next Games.

Last Updated 17 August 2016