Even if you didn’t get a chance to see the 2012 Olympics live in London, you don’t have to worry about never being able to see the venues! The Park is still open for tours even now, and the venues will be reopening in 2013 for public use! The Olympic Park, to be renamed the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in 2013, was built not only for the 2012 Olympics but also so be used in legacy. This is in keeping with the London Commission for Sustainable Development’s goal for the 2012 Olympics to not only be “the greenest games ever” but also to be used after the Olympics, so that the venues do not become behemoth eyesores, like some Olympic venues have in other countries.
The Olympic Stadium and the Copper Box will reopen in the summer of 2013 for public use. The Aquatics Centre will not be reopened until 2014, but that is because a crèche, family-friendly training centres, café and a new public plaza will be added. The Water Polo stadium that was erected for the Olympics was merely temporary, so the Aquatics Centre will be used for Water Polo events as well. The renewed Eton Manor will feature a tennis centre with four outdoor and two indoor courts, and a hockey centre. In fact, this will be the only permanent 2012 Paralympics venue. The Velodrome and BMX track will be joined with a new mountain bike and road bike tracks to form the Lee Valley VeloPark. These will be modified to suit bikers of all ages and abilities.
Not only will the venues be reused, but they were also constructed using recycled materials or with the idea of sustainability in mind. For example, the Copper Box was constructed with water fittings designed to reduce the water consumption, its copper covering is made of 60% of recycled copper, and the use of skylights reduces the need for artificial light. The Velodrome’s cable roof reduced the steel usually needed for a roof that size, and the timber used for the track was sustainably resourced. The ring beam that supports the fabric roof on the Olympic Stadium was made of reclaimed gas pipes, and the whole stadium used less than half the steel than other stadia, making it one of the lightest stadia in the world.
I personally love the idea of reusing the venues for future use. The idea to build these venues using recyclable materials and to reduce the carbon footprint was commendable, and the effort into making that part of London – which was a heavily industrialised area – into a greener place, bringing back wildlife and planting up to 4,000 trees and 300,000 other types of plants, was excellent. The Olympic Park is now a beautiful place, and you would have never guessed what it looked like before they began construction. I would highly suggest visiting the Olympic Park and checking out all these venues for yourself!