A look at how the London Olympic Games have changed from 1908 to now:
The 1908 budget was 75,000 pounds — 60,000 for the stadium, which was paid for by the concurrent Franco-British Exhibition, and 15,000 for operating expenses. Since revenues totaled 21,500 pounds, of which 15,850 were donations, the Games turned a profit. In 1948, when postwar stringencies prevented any new construction, operating expenses were 732,000 pounds and receipts 762,000. In 2012, the total cost will be more than 11 billion pounds, with the government paying nine billion and the organizing committee the other two, which it will raise from ticket and merchandise sales, broadcast rights, and sponsorships.
In 1908, when television was a sci-fi fantasy and radio networks still were a dozen years away, newspapers provided the only Olympic coverage. In 1948, there were more than 200 radio reporters and the BBC telecast 60 hours of action. In 2012, more than 21,000 media representatives will be staffing the Games, the BBC will show 5,000 hours of competition, and NBC, which paid more than $1 billion for the US rights, will provide network and cable coverage, and stream live to computers and mobile and tablet devices.
While the 1908 program had 24 sports, some of them contested in October, a third of them no longer are in the summer Games — lacrosse, polo, rackets, rugby, tug of war, motorboating, jeu de paume, and figure skating. While the list had been reduced to 19 by 1948, basketball, canoeing, weightlifting, modern pentathlon, and equestrian events all were being offered. By 2012, the number of sports nearly has doubled, with the likes of badminton, judo, synchronized swimming, table tennis, taekwondo, tennis, and volleyball having been added.
White City Stadium, which was built in 10 months, seated 68,000, and was used until 1985, accommodated more than a dozen sports in 1908, from track and field to tug of war. In 1948, when the city still was rebuilding from German bombing and had no cash for new venues, the hosts laid down a track inside the Wembley soccer stadium and used existing facilities like the Henley rowing course and Tweseldown Racecourse. This time, the organizers have redeveloped East London’s industrial wasteland, building an Olympic Park that includes an 80,000-seat stadium, aquatics center, basketball arena, velodrome, and an athletes’ village. Elsewhere, old-school sites are being given a new twist with Lord’s Cricket Ground being used for archery and Horse Guards Parade for beach volleyball.
The three dozen females who participated in 1908 took part in only four sports — archery, figure skating, sailing, and tennis. While more than 10 times that number competed in 1948, there still were no women’s events in basketball, cycling, field hockey, rowing or individual gymnastics, and no track events longer than 200 meters. Dutch housewife Fanny Blankers-Koen, who won four gold medals in track and field, was forbidden to compete in more than three individual events. In 2012, with boxing added, there no longer are any male-only sports on the summer program.