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.

    Stefano Boeri, the architect mastermind behind the famous plant-covered skyscrapers, is now designing Forest Cities in Liuzhou, China. #ForestCity #China
    Auction is the second scheduled in a month for a One57 unit and it could set a NYC foreclosure record. #BillionairesRow #Foreclosures
    Once a couch-surfing website, Airbnb moves on to luxury properties, further disrupting hospitality industry. #Airbnb #Luxury
Four Countries To Retire In With $200K In Savings—And How Much Real Estate Costs There
Ever dreamed of retiring abroad? You know, affordable healthcare, better climate, more positive news—becoming an expat seems like an enticing option, especially one you no…
While Other Real Estate Platforms Start Charging Agents $3-Per-Day Exposure Fee, Agorafy Remains Accessible To All
Real Estate searching platform are always finding news ways to diversify their revenues models. Case in point—on Tuesday July 18, Streeteasy, one of New York…
Is Real Estate Crowdfunding The Fix That Urban Housing In America Really Needs?
Saving money for a down payment? One can only hope. Most millennial in their twenties or thirties are mortified that they might never be able…
Brooklyn And Queens’ Real Estate Sub-Markets Continue Their Ascent To The New Heights
So, the sales prices in Brooklyn and Queens hit record highs. Again. Just like they did in December 2016 and at the end of this…
The Economy Of Car Services And Delivery Apps Might Be Making NYC Less Eco-Friendly
Living in an eco-friendly neighborhood is a good thing. And, as it always the case with the good things, it also costs more. High rents…
Building Communities: What The U.S. Developers Should Learn From Soho China
As our world emerges into the new period of globalization and technology, some of the most important by-products of this process are buildings that have…
Five Reasons Why All Entrepreneurs Must Keep Their Eyes On China
It is hard to overestimate the importance of Chinese influence on the modern global economy. Carving out a place in Chinese market and winning over…
Airbnb Up Their Game With A New Luxury Tier Featuring Mansions And Villas
Airbnb is about to seriously up their game. First, the company started testing a new service called Select in an attempt to push accommodation listings…