Changes at London Olympic stadium blur memories of 2012, by Chris Lotsbom, RRW, note by Larry Eder

The London Olympic stadium is evolving. The legalities of Olympic logos and sponsors take some of the excitement away from the great stadium. As Chris Lotsbom found, the memories of August 2012 changed in the re branded stadium in July 2013. Here is how the associate editor of Race Results Weekly saw it: 

Usain Bolt, Sainsbury Anniversary Games, July 26, 2013, 
photo by

By Chris Lotsbom @ChrisLotsbom
(c) 2013 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved, used with permission

LONDON (27-Jul) -- From afar, the Olympic Stadium here inside Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park appears the same as it did twelve months ago, its big white trusses and triangular beams rising into the air, seamlessly supporting the 80,000-seat arena. But, the keen observer will notice a plethora of differences both inside and outside of the stadium, some that take away from the magical Olympic aura that was so overwhelming in 2012.

Changes can be seen as soon as one enters Olympic Park from the Stratford transportation area, where an estimated 60,000 spectators shuffled their way through the gates on Friday evening. Cameras were drawn in every direction, some lenses aimed at the white stadium ahead while many more pointed towards a vast construction site, once home to endless paths of flowers and Olympic-sport venues. No longer standing were the Olympic water polo and basketball arenas, as well as the Olympic Field Hockey Stadium. The aquatics venue looked to be undergoing renovations.

Hoping to get a glimpse of the rest of Olympic Park, fans were disappointed to find it closed off to the public. Construction equipment and fencing replaced what twelve months ago were pretty walking paths where spectators could smell wildflowers and take pictures of the venues.

"We couldn't get tickets to the Olympic Games, so this was our Olympic day out really. It's a bit disappointing," said Wendy James, a spectator from Sussex. Along with her daughter, Hannah, James came here expecting to see historic remnants and iconic symbols of the 2012 London Olympics. Sadly, both were disappointed to find nothing with the Olympic logo or theme attached.

Sophie Ashcroft of British Athletics confirmed to Race Results Weekly that all Olympic Games signage and logos had to be removed from the stadium, as they are protected marks of the International Olympic Committee. Because the Sainsbury's Anniversary Games is not an IOC event, the logos cannot be used anywhere.

So, instead of a celebration of the 2012 Olympiad, anything dating back to the Games has been removed or covered up, including the purple paint that once surrounded the stadium's walls.

"It does disappoint, especially the black around the outside," said Hannah James, 25. "It's a bit garish; you would have expected some banners or at least something that would say it's the Anniversary Games."

Wendy James even noted the limited selection of merchandise available. Because of the Olympic logo restrictions, only British Athletics merchandise was on sale.

"When you get to the merchandise, it's all just British Athletics and no Olympics. We were expecting Olympics and Sainsbury's Anniversary Games. It's a little bit disappointing but it still is an impressive stadium," she said.

Once inside the stadium, subtle changes can be observed. Eliminated are any remnants of the purple coloring or block lettering of the London 2012 games, something that discouraged spectator Adam Carne of Loughton.

"The Olympics, it's like they took everything with them," said Carne, who also pointed out the missing giant speakers which used to be above the track. "Today was for the people who didn't get to come last year. In a way they should have left up some of that stuff. It's not the same, and never really will be the same [as 2012]."

British Athletics and Sainsbury's supermarket logos have replaced London 2012 logos in every direction. Sainsbury's is the title sponsor of the Anniversary Games IAAF Diamond League Meeting, and their bright orange lettering can be found in every corner of the stadium (as it should be).

Even the Mondo running track fell victim to the Olympic logo restrictions; the Olympic rings painted onto the homestretch have been covered over.

The only remaining London 2012 purple coloring Race Results Weekly could find was the athlete seating for field event competitors on the infield, and the lane markers set up before each race.

Above the first level of seats closest to the track is a concrete walkway that circles the stadium. On the walls of this used to be painted Olympic slogans such as "Inspire a Generation" and "London 2012." A faint outline of the slogans are all that remains, as attempts to fully scrape the paint off proved to be unsuccessful. Attempting to cover up the painted words are British Athletics logos reading "We Are British Athletics."

To some, the differences weren't particularly glaring. Spectator Russell Grace, who attended the athletics competition at last year's Olympic Games twice, wasn't phased by the changes. Instead, he was drawn in by the atmosphere that resembled 2012.

"It won't be the Olympics, but it seems really good so far," he said.

The only thing that seems to have stood the test of time is indeed the atmosphere inside the stadium, perhaps the most important trademark of all. The noise level approached that of 2012 on Friday, especially when 100-meter world record holder Usain Bolt took to the track.

But, alas, there is nothing that quite matches the palpable feeling of London 2012.

"Nothing will ever be like 2012," reiterated Carne. "It was just magical then."

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Make sure to visit Race Results Weekly's Facebook page, where a photo album of the Olympic Stadium and its changes will be posted in the coming days.

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