A-Z of the 2012 Olympics

All the bells in the countryIn our trans-alphabetic approach to Olympics facts, we've got everything covered, from art installations to apps. 

Plus, how to find out which events are free, learn more about the torch relay route and what we came up with for the letter 'x' (you know you're curious).


is for All the bells in a country. At 8:12am on 27 July 2012, as part of the London 2012 Festival, thousands of people across the UK will celebrate the first day of the Olympics by performing a piece by Turner Prize-winning artist Martin Creed in unison: Work No. 1197: All the bells in a country rung as quickly and as loudly as possible for three minutes. And anyone can take part - find out more here. 

is for babies. LOCOG has now confirmed that babes in arms (12 months or under) will be allowed into almost all London 2012 venues without a ticket but strapped securely to a parent or carer in a baby carrier, sling or similar. The exceptions are Wembley Stadium, St James' Park, Old Trafford and North Greenwich Arena, where existing licensing agreements mean all spectators need a ticket, regardless of age.  

is for the cultural Olympiad, which has been running since 2008 and culminates with the London 2012 Festival - music, theatrical and carnival events around the UK.

is for distance between venues. Use this handy device to work out how far (or near) each Olympic venue is to another.

is for equality and equestrian - the equestrian events will be the only ones where women and men compete against each other on the same terms.


is for the Olympic events you can watch for free (yes - there are some). Here's a list of what's on offer.


is for gold (obvs). The most gold medals Britain has ever won at a summer Olympics was the 1908 London Olympics, when we romped home in first place with 56.


is for Homeswap. If you're looking to flee the capital, or would like to bring your brood without having to sell one to pay for a hotel room, try Mumsnet Homeswap.



is for Inspire a Generation - the official motto for the London games.


is for joining in. The time to offer your services as a volunteer has passed, but you can still watch the flame go past your doorstep or join in festival events. Find out more.

is for the knitted Olympic figures that appeared overnight on the pier in the North Yorkshire town of Saltburn-by-the-sea.


is for live sites - there'll be giant screens at spots across London and around the UK where you can watch key events live.


is for the Mumsnet Olympics, with proposed events ranging from Stealth Boasting to Extreme Blanket Making and Loud Parenting.


is for the Navy airbase at Culdrose, near Helston in Cornwall where the Olympic flame landed on 18 May.


is for the Orbit, Anish Kapoor's £22.7m, 35-storey tower with views over the Olympic Park. Tickets will cost £15 for adults and £7 for children.


Paralympicis for the Paralympics, which run from 29 Aug - 9 Sept. We're actually pretty good at them. In the last three Paralympic Games, Britain's lowest spot on the medal table has been second place. 

for Qatar who'll be sending their first female competitors to the 2012 Olympics.


is for running. The 100m final is one of the most sought-after tickets but will be over in seconds. Usain Bolt's last Olympics outing at Beijing saw him flash past the winning line in 9.69 seconds. 

is for school fetes and how Mumsnetters would 'olympify' them. As you might imagine, this discussion isn't exactly a glowing ad for the Olympics.


is for the Olympic Torch Relay Route - for 70 days, from 19 May, the torch will be taken from Newcastle to the Olympic Park. Find out when it's going to be near you on the official route map


 is for unreasonable, as in "AIBU not to be excited about the Olympics?"


is for volleyball. The London Olympics will be the first to allow female beach volleyball players to wear less revealing outfits.


Olympic torch

is for Wenlock and Mandeville: the ugliest Olympic icons ever? Discuss.


is for x-rays. Security at the games is costing upwards of £2bn, with more than 23,000 security personnel, bag searches, x-ray screening machines, metal detectors CCTV... and surface-to-air missiles on standby.

is for yachting, which was an Olympic event until the 2000 Sydney games when they changed its name to sailing. Does yachting sound too posh?


is for zil lanes - the nickname given to the Games' lanes that are being designated special roads for use only by Olympic VIPs, athletes, sponsors and the media. The reference is the Zil limousines used in Russia for ferrying senior party officials around.


Last updated: about 3 years ago