Nobody Does It Better: Why London 2012 Wins the Gold Medal of Recent Olympics

By Jeff Vasishta August 19, 2016
2012 Summer Olympic Rehearsal. Photo courtesy of Matt Lancashire via Flickr

Back in the day, things were easier. All you needed to have an Olympics was a loincloth and the will to win. And, in the beginning, they often forgot the loincloth.

For better or for worse, putting on an Olympics nowadays is an unfathomably complex affair. Bidding wars and billions in contracts are the hallmark of a modern Olympics. But in spite of all the resources behind them, some Games still go better than others.

RelatedThe Olympic Cleansing Of Rio’s Favelas: Pacified Or Gentrified?  

For example, many of the things that Athens and Beijing got wrong with their Olympics in 2004 and 2008, London got right in 2012. The main masterstroke by London planners was hosting the Olympics in Stratford, East London. The area was, and still is, economically poor and densely populated and, before the Games, in dire need of infrastructure. Unlike in Greece and China, London’s Olympic venues have not turned into tumbleweed ghost towns once the athletes and enthusiasts cleared out. Now, the facilities are now busy sports centers used by local residents. The aquatics centre, Velopark and Copper Box sports venues are open to the public, as is the Arcelormittal Orbit.

Probably the most notable new resident is the Olympic Stadium’s new tenant, Premier League soccer club, West Ham United who have refurbished the stadium to suit their needs. It hasn’t come cheap—£702m, including conversion costs—for the duration of their tenancy. But with a host of other sporting and cultural events likely to be held there, the 54,000 seat venue seems unlikely to turn into a dustbowl.

Related:   Pacified Or Passed By: Did The 2016 Olympics Sink or Save Rio?

The Games helped London in other ways too. Around the time of the Olympics and until the Brexit vote, the London property market was on fire. Fueled at the high end by investment bankers, Russian oligarchs, Chinese investors and Middle Eastern oil billionaires, the trickle down meant that all of London’s numbers went up. People needed housing and Stratford, with its proximity to Central London and new rail links, was an area that made perfect sense for new residences. In addition, the expansive Westfield Shopping complex next to the Olympic Stadium became a strong retail draw for new transplants.

The gentrification of Stratford, though has been contentious. The Olympic Village, which housed athletes during the Games has been converted to long-term residential dwellings. Now renamed East Village, it contains 2,818 units, half of which are market priced homes (mostly for private rent), a quarter are housing association homes or “affordable housing”—and a quarter are for social rent. That makes a 50/50 affordable/market split. The Olympic Park development plans to have five new neighborhoods but unlike the East Village’s 50/50 ratio, theirs was only 31 percent affordable. Why the reduction? Two reasons. There has been a dramatic increase in property prices and the deal for the East Village was struck under the old Labour Government. David Cameron’s Conservative Government has been less enamored with the idea of low-income housing.

But all is not shiny and new in Stratford. It’s still home to some of London’s poorest communities, living in old run-down buildings reminiscent of Dickensian times. Until all the new housing is completed in five or six years, it will be impossible to judge the full ramifications of the Games on Stratford’s economy.  But if past Olympics are any measure to go on, London 2012 has been the Usain Bolt of recent events. The others aren’t even close.

Jeff Vasishta



Jeff is a writer, husband and father but not necessarily in that order. As a music journalist he counts Prince, Beyonce and Quincy Jones amongst those he’s interviewed. He's also owned and flipped homes in Brooklyn, NJ, CT and PA.

    Avocado toasts are the reason why millennials can’t afford a home, says one Australian real estate developer. #AvocadoToast #Millennials
    Five years on since Superstorm Sandy, Queens’ coastal peninsula is in the midst of a development boom. #Development #Rockaways
    It turns out, renters can’t get enough of good ol’ no-doorman-no-frills apartments. Too bad developers aren’t building any. #Doorman #LuxuryRentals
Developers Jump Aboard The Trend To Revamp Transit Hubs And Remake Cities
Never has the often used marketing term, “close to transportation” been more important when attracting home buyers. These days it’s not just homes that are…
Millennials Are Fueling The Current Sizzling Real Estate Market
Ever wondered why the hosts of home improvement shows seem to be getting progressively younger, along with the fresh-faced couples getting their new properties made…
The Best Cities For Recent Grads To Rent – Without Blowing Their Entire Paycheck
What’s next post graduation? For most, the logical answer is to find a job. After the excitement of finishing your studies and the big celebration,…
Luxury Knows No Limit In Malaysia As A Deluge Of New Developments Hit The Market
The amount of newly constructed high-end real estate in Malaysia is almost as abundant as the lush vegetation which covers the tropical landscape. Despite vacant…
Don’t Call It A Commune – Upscale Co-Living Is Attracting Major Development
What may have once been referred to as a commune is today termed a co-living space. The big news that it’s not hippies with hemp…
It’s Official—New York Is Now The Most Expensive City In The World To Build
As if you didn’t already know, it’s expensive to build in New York City. Not just expensive but now officially the most expensive place in…
An Ultimate Destination For The Most Comprehensive Real Estate Data, Agorafy Prepares To Launch Nationwide
In the coming days, Agorafy will be entering a new chapter. It is the beginning of a new growth cycle in real estate technology with…
A New Beach Front Condo Building Slated For the Rockaways Amid A Slew Of New Development
Proving that New Yorkers are the masters of reinvention, particularly when it comes to real estate, a new millennial-friendly condo tower is due to rise…

TOP 10