In this 15th installment of the “Road to the Summer Olympics,” we move to the Games in London, United Kingdom. The 2012 Olympics was the third time London had hosted the Olympics, with the 1908 and 1948 Game preceding the 2012 Olympiad. London won the bid for hosting the Olympics after four rounds of voting, narrowly beating out Paris, France, in each round. Paris had considerable favor to win the Games but strikes, demonstrations, and alleged political corruption with a key member of the bid team swayed the winning votes to London over Paris and Madrid. In 2011 fears over riots in London caused concern and question about the safety of the Games in London, but the 2012 Olympics went off without issue.
The 2012 London Games would see about 10,700 athletes from 205 National Olympic Committees and countries participate. Queen Elizabeth II opened the Games, the second time since the 1976 Montreal Games. Saudi Arabia. Qatar, and Brunei entered female athletes for the first time in the 2012 Olympics showing progress toward equality. Upon their completion, the London Olympic Games cost $15 billion – overbudget by 76%. With the influx of athletes, major undertakings had to be performed to accommodate the events, including creating a temporary terminal at Heathrow Airport for the 10,100 departing athletes. Yet, the Games went off successfully, and the United States won the most gold and overall medals, followed by China and Great Britain.
The 2012 Olympics had its controversies. Now in the age of social media, people could voice their discontent for issues. From empty seats in sold out sections of the stadium and at popular events to “unhealthy” sponsors like McDonalds, Coca Cola, and Heineken, people turned to social media to raise their concerns and stage activist campaigns. The greatest controversy with the 2012 Olympics came in the form of the badminton women’s doubles event, in which teams who had already qualified for the next round both attempted to lose their matches to gain a more favorable team to go up against in the quarter finals. It became abundantly clear what was happening and while the matches ended in draws, the Badminton World Federation reviewed the results and found all eight players were guilty and ejected them from the Olympics.
For numismatics, Great Britain would make many coins for commemorating the Olympics. Starting in 2009 a series of 29 different 50 pence pieces featuring Olympic commemorative designs were made for circulation and as collector issues. These include the following designs, 2009 Athletics (high jump bar), and in 2011 Aquatics, Archery, Badminton, Basketball, Boccia (Paralympics), Boxing, Canoeing, Cycling, Equestrian, Fencing, Football (Soccer), Goalball (Paralympics), Gymnastics, Handball, Hockey, Judo, Modern Pentathlon, Rowing, Sailing, Shooting, Table Tennis, Taekwondo, Tennis, Triathlon, Volleyball, Weightlifting, Wheelchair Rugby (Paralympics), and Wrestling. Two £2 coins were issued for circulating and special collector issue commemoratives, one in 2008 featuring the Olympic Flag being passed from Beijing to London and the other in 2012 for a baton being passed to Rio.
Great Britain 2011 £5 S-4922 Countdown – Cycling – Silver Piedfort – PCGS PR67DCAM. Click image to enlarge.
Non-circulating legal-tender coins were issued in silver for a few different series. The first series, known as London 2012 Countdown, features £5 coins starting in 2009 with “3 Years To Go” featuring faceted figures swimming, 2010 “2 Years To Go” showcasing faceted figures running, 2011 “1 year to go” bearing a faceted figure cycling, and 2012 highlighting three faceted figures on the victory podium. The next series, called “Celebration of Britain: Mind, Body and Spirit,” features different designs for each theme. For the Mind theme in 2009 were Big Ben, Stonehenge, Angel of the North, Flying Scotsman, Newton Sculpture, Globe Theatre. For 2010 it was the Body theme with Rhossili Bay, Giant’s Causeway, River Thames, a barn owl, oak leaf and acorn, and weathervane. 2010 also saw the Spirit theme with floral emblems, The White Rabbit (from Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland), The Mall, Churchill Statue, Musical Instruments sculpture, and Equiano. These coins were also made in piedfort (double thickness and weight) and gold strikes. A five-ounce £10 coin was issued in 2012 to commemorate the Games featuring a Pegasus. A silver kilo coin valued at £500 was issued in 2012 featuring the design “XXX OLYMPIAD” and “UNITE OUR DREAMS TO MAKE THE WORLD A TEAM OF TEAMS.”
For gold issues, Great Britain issued a “Faster, Higher, Stronger” series starting in 2010 with Faster, a £100 featuring the Roman god Neptune along with two £25 coins featuring Mercury and Diana. In 2011 the Higher £100 was struck featuring Roman god Jupiter, and two £25 coins were produced depicting Juno and Apollo. The 2012 Stronger £100 showcases the Roman god Mars, and two £25 coins feature Vulcan and Minerva. A gold kilo with a face value of £1,000 featured sports equipment and a wreath.
Internationally, other countries also issued commemorative coinage for the 2012 London Olympics. These countries include Aruba, Australia, Bahamas, Belarus, Brazil, British Virgin Islands, Canada, Estonia, France, Hungary, Isle of Man, Israel, Jersey, Kazakhstan, Kiribati, Laos, Latvia, Lithuania, Maldives, Moldova, Nauru, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, and the Ukraine.
The 2012 Olympics will go down as successful. Following issues with the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, the next Summer Olympics in Rio, Brazil, and the worldwide issues that the 2020 Olympics will face, one wonders if the 2012 London Games will be the last successful Olympic Games we see for a long time.
- 2012 Summer Olympics Wikipedia.org
- Badminton at the 2012 Summer Olympics – Women's doubles Wikipedia.org
- London 2012 RoyalMint.com