A Journey through Olympic Construction

Nov 3, 2017

The Olympics is arguably the most well-known sporting event in the world. The anticipation and excitement in the host country is unexplainable, and the boost to economy second-to-none. But, constructing an entire village for athletes from all over the world to live in, compete and relax is not easy, even for the most experienced professionals.

During the 2016 Rio Games, Olympic officials for Tokyo announced ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics that they cannot afford to construct the centre piece stadium. Not the best news to hear with 4 years to go.

Now it’s less than 1000 days until we head to Tokyo for the sporting event of the year, let’s have a look back through the years to divulge ourselves in all things Olympic construction…


London 2012

London 2012 was a historic event for the country, which fortuned a proud and united front from all who participated, helped and watched. Most of us may have seen these structures being built through the years, and many of us will have visited at least one site since 2012.

Astoundingly 6,449 people worked on the Olympic Park at the peak of its construction during December 2010. This gave over 2,000 unemployed workers the chance to work from April 2008 up until the games took place. This saw the Olympic park being one of the largest urban parks to be built in Europe for 150 years.

The estimated cost of constructing everything required for the London games was originally £280m, but these projections soon grew to around the £701m mark and beyond.

Rio 2016

In 2016, Brazil welcomed the torch and became home to the Olympic Games. There were many challenges being faced during the construction of these games, starting with cost. In Rio’s bid, they promised 14 new structures to hold various sporting events. However, due to the recession this was not implemented.

Just 12 months before the games were set to begin, only one of the original fourteen promised buildings had been completed, so the negative press was coming in thick and fast. Eventually, they completed 9 new buildings, falling short of their bid promise.

Rio took inspiration from our London 2012 Games, however, building their Future Arena with a Nomadic feel, similar to the Copperbox in London.

Tokyo 2020

The construction for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics is expected to cost £1.1 billion – one of the largest budgets the Olympic games has ever seen. Currently, there are 40 different buildings expected to be constructed for the games, including 5 different stadiums just to host the football.

In addition, there will be the Olympic village and a building hosting the ‘Tokyo International Exhibition Centre’.

“It is an opportunity to design the whole area surrounding the station,” said architect Kengo Kuma, who is designing the new national stadium for the Tokyo Games. “It would be a great project because it will connect the sea and the hill of Tokyo, which will make a new face to the city.”

With less than 1000 days to go until the start of the opening ceremony, it will be interesting to see the outcome of this mega construction project, and whether they will be able to keep up with the demand of their original bid. Especially considering they’ve already announced they can’t afford to construct the centre piece stadium…

What has been your favourite piece of construction so far from all the Olympic games? Were you involved in the construction of the London 2012 buildings? Tweet as at @HighfieldREC to let us know.

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