Photographers' Blog

Ghosts of Olympics past

May 11, 2012

By Toby Melville

The United Kingdom, London in particular, is cranking up the momentum with just over two months to go until the 2012 Summer Olympics begin. In the last few months myriads of sporting, political and business photocalls have taken place around the gleaming and glittering new venues in east London with many test events being held therein.

The last time London hosted the Olympics was in 1948, three years after the Second World War and because of that global conflict, it was the first Olympics in 12 years, since Berlin in 1936. The competition was labelled the Austerity Games, because of the post-war rationing and the economic climate of the time. With the 2012 Games also set against a backdrop of global financial and economic crisis, comparisons with the previous time London played host are easy to make.

In 2012, over nine billion pounds sterling (approximately US$13billion) has so far been channeled into building brand new stadia, with a whole new Olympic Park complex in east London. But in 1948, only existing venues and facilities were used, nor was there an athletes village. The total cost of the games then was £760 000 (approx £131 million, $210 million, in 2012). In 1948, British athletes had to buy their own kit and make their own way to events by public transport. Some of the venues used in 1948 are still in existence, so I thought it would make an interesting journey to track down and photograph them nearly 65 years later…

SLIDESHOW: LONDON 1948

(View a slideshow of images here)

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