10 Never-Before-Seen Images Of The 2012 Olympic Games

10 Never-Before-Seen Images Of The 2012 Olympic Games
Crowds of people walk towards a huge stadium (one of them is draped in a Union Flag)
Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London, 1 August 2012. Simon Roberts. © Simon Roberts Flowers Gallery. All rights reserved, DACSArtimage 2022.

It's (somehow) 10 years since the 2012 Summer Olympics were hosted in London — a proud moment for the capital indeed, but also one which photographer Simon Roberts says was a period reminiscent of the 1948 Olympics held in London, known as the austerity games.

"London 2012, it was widely claimed," says Roberts, "presented an opportunity for the British public, and indeed much of the rest of the world, to momentarily forget the economic gloom that surrounded us."

Women’s Long Jump Final, Olympic Stadium, London, 8 August 2012. © Simon Roberts Flowers Gallery. All rights reserved, DACSArtimage 2022.
Men’s Marathon Swim, Hyde Park, London, 10 August 2012. Simon Roberts. © Simon Roberts Flowers Gallery. All rights reserved, DACSArtimage 2022.

Roberts was offered comprehensive access to the Games, and invited to create an 'alternative, artistic' take on this holy grail of sporting events.

He came up with The London Olympiad, a photo essay which focusses not so much on the individual sporting spectacles, but the relationship between the athletes, judges, broadcasters and the public — the entire mise en scene.

Usain Bolt poses by a running track, pulling the "Lightning Bolt" pose
Men’s 100m Final, Olympic Stadium, London, 5 August 2012. Simon Roberts. © Simon Roberts Flowers Gallery. All rights reserved, DACSArtimage 2022.
A man plunges from the top diving board in front of a huge audience at a swimming pool
Men's 10m Platform Diving, Aquatics Centre, London, 11 August 2012. Simon Roberts. © Simon Roberts Flowers Gallery. All rights reserved, DACSArtimage 2022.

On the 10th anniversary of Roberts' work, the photographer has released a number of photos previously never-before-seen by the public — including the 10 here.

As with the rest of Roberts' London Olympiad series, crowds, technical setups and the built environment are at the heart of these photos. It's like pulling a wide-shot on magical sporting moments, and experiences everything in a wider context: the camera crews, the adjudicators with their laptop screens, the fans up in the nosebleed seats of the Aquatics Centre.

Men’s Table Tennis Semi-Finals, ExCeL Centre, London, 6 August 2012. © Simon Roberts Flowers Gallery. All rights reserved, DACSArtimage 2022.
Cyclists in Lycra whizz past a crown at Buckingham Palace
Men’s Cycling Road Race, The Mall, London, 28 July 2012. Simon Roberts. © Simon Roberts Flowers Gallery. All rights reserved, DACSArtimage 2022.

With stunning opening and closing ceremonies, an ingenious transformation of some of London's best-known landmarks — and at one point, three British athletes winning gold medals within 44 minutes — the Games certainly played their part helping the country cast off its woes.

Men’s Javelin Throw, Olympic Stadium, London, 11 August 2012. © Simon Roberts Flowers Gallery. All rights reserved, DACSArtimage 2022.
Bikes shoot around a velodrome at high speed
Women’s 3000m Team Pursuit, Velodrome, London, 3 August 2012. Simon Roberts. © Simon Roberts Flowers Gallery. All rights reserved, DACSArtimage 2022.

As for whether or not the efficacy was long term, says Roberts: "London 2012 feels like an event from a different time altogether, whilst the promised legacies of that summer (with its eye-watering price tag) are still being debated with opinions very much divided."

The Closing Ceremony, Olympic Stadium, London, 12 August 2012. Simon Roberts. © Simon Roberts Flowers Gallery. All rights reserved, DACSArtimage 2022.

Check out more of Roberts' 2012 Games images on Artimage.

Last Updated 23 September 2022