London 2012 Olympics: The Stuff We All Forgot About The Build-Up

By M@ Last edited 8 months ago
London 2012 Olympics: The Stuff We All Forgot About The Build-Up

It's a decade since the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics. The years-long build-up brought plenty of twists and turns, and we were there to cover it.

Here are some highlights from the build-up that we expect nearly everyone has forgotten...

June 2007: Someone got a very rude image onto BBC London News

A BBC newsreader looks at a screen where a hand-drawn alternative logo for London 2012 shows two hands pulling open the zero.
Image screengrabbed by Martin Deutsch

The official Olympic logo was mocked by just about everyone. In response, the BBC asked viewers to send in their own alternatives. One of the shortlisted entries was this charmer, hastily doodled by Sean Stayte. If you have no idea why this was a mistake, google the word 'goatse', after making sure that nobody can see your screen.

February 2011: Spurs for the stadium

As we all know, West Ham would eventually end up in the Olympic stadium. But, for a time, it looked like Spurs might bag the site. Here's a colour-saturated vision for how their tenancy might look.

February 2011: An indoor ski-slope mooted

What to do with the Olympic Park 'in legacy' was a question given plenty of attention in the years running up to the Games. One tricky customer was the gigantic (and ugly) Media Centre to the west of the park. It eventually became the Here East complex, but one alternative suggestion was to turn the building into an indoor ski-slope.

February 2011: Iran claims Olympic logo is racist

We all remember how the London 2012 logo looked like Lisa Simpson giving head. But did you know that Iran had a very different objection? The country's National Olympic Committee threatened to pull out after claiming that the maligned logo appeared to say 'Zion', a term for Jerusalem. More here.

May 2011: We were promised a floating river walkway

One of the more ambitious Olympic projects not directly linked to sport was the construction of a kilometre-long floating walkway between Blackfriars Bridge and the Tower, complete with bubble-shaped novelty pods to "showcase London". The Gensler-designed walkway had mayoral backing and supposedly had private funding in place. We even went to the press launch for the thing. The whole project mysteriously went quiet a few months later, never to be heard of again.

June 2011: A Noah's Ark for the Olympics?

As the Games approached, one "eccentric Dutch Christian" (to use the Telegraph's label) floated the idea of a replica Noah's Ark, using proportions laid out in the Old Testament, to sail down the Thames and Lea. "Built from Swedish Pine, the 140m-long ship would contain real, stuffed and robotic animals as part of a floating exhibition about Christianity and the Bible." Like the floating walkway, this project also sank without trace.

November 2011: The mascots get their own song

Endlessly talented duo Manlock and Wendyville (or whatever) released their Olympic Mascot single this month called On A Rainbow. The tune was written by Tom Fletcher of McFly and (later) Strictly Come Dancing fame. The song seems to have sunk without trace, though bizarrely, you can still buy the sheet music on Amazon.

November 2011: Familiar uniforms

The uniforms for Olympic and Paralympic volunteers are revealed. The press has fun pointing out the similarity to Sainsbury's staff uniforms, but they remind us of Dick Dastardly's Wacky Races outfit. As it turned out, London's volunteer army was anything but dastardly, and one of the universally praised aspects of the Games.

January 2012: Christ to rise on Primrose Hill?

Half a year before the London Games, the successor city of Rio was thinking ahead. It proposed erecting a replica statue of Christ the Redeemer (Rio's most famous landmark) on top of Primrose Hill in Camden, to mark the handover. The idea was never put in for formal planning, and has never been resurrected.

May 2012: Organisers can't spell world-famous venue correctly

The run-up to the Games saw a constant stream of low-level cock-ups that didn't exactly inspire confidence. As errors go, this one isn't huge, but it is representative of the drip-drip of signs that the organisers didn't know what they were doing. We were all so sure the Games would be a disaster.

July 2012: Policeman Wenlock becomes a surprise hit

Olympic and Paralympic mascots, Manlock and Wendyville (or whatever they were called), received a mixed response from the Great British Public — a mix of incredulity and derision. That all changed just before the Olympics when one particular product line became a surprise hit. The policeman Wenlock doll received dozens of comedy reviews on Amazon, many of them hilarious.

July 2012: A giant shot put lands in Kennington

A giant golden shotput has caused a crater in a road

Immediately before the Games began, a collection of oversized sporting equipment was placed around the city. This giant shot put apparently decorated the pavement near Oval tube station.

Last Updated 16 March 2022