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London: Move over, royal baby: City readies for opening of park

July 22, 2013|By John Lampl
  • Work will continue on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park even after it opens to the public on July 29. This is an artist's rendering of what it's hoped the park will look like when it fully opens in spring 2014.
Work will continue on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park even after it opens… (London Legacy Development…)

All eyes may be focused on Kate Middleton and the royal baby, but come the weekend, at least some will turn to events at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

A little more than a year after Queen Elizabeth II parachuted into Olympic Park in the opening ceremonies of the 2012 Summer Games, many of the star athletes of those Games will return to compete once more as the public celebrates the revitalization of a once run-down area of London.

Many of the competitors in last summer’s games are expected to return for the track and field events of the Sainsbury Anniversary games (info and tickets online). The games will run Friday-Sunday.

Just as those games close, the north park of the greater Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park will officially open to the public.

“We want to recapture the magic of the Games one year on,” said Dennis Hone, chief executive of the London Legacy Development Corp., which is carrying on the work begun by the London Olympics Organizing Committee and other organizations that put on the 2012 London Games.

“That is why we are opening North Park now-- to give people a glimpse of what they can expect to see when it fully reopens in spring next year.”

The 2012 Olympics, which opened July 27, featured Queen Elizabeth’s stunt double parachuting into the Olympic park as part of an opening ceremony that amused, entertained, confused and moved the 40 million viewers who took in the four-hour spectacle.

It was the precursor to an Olympics that not only displayed world-class athleticism but also showed off the results of London’s meticulous planning and execution.

At the heart of the 2012 Games was the long term revitalization and rejuvenation of the East London-Stratford area, which previously had been a blight on the London city map.

The new north park will be open for visitors to walk, run, jog, cycle and have picnics. Children will be able to play at the Tumbling Bay Playground, which will serve as a center of creativity, hosting exhibitions by many local artists, together with regular cultural and entertainment events of all sizes and shapes.

It is expected that residents living nearest to the Park will make up the majority using the grounds until the park fully opens in spring 2014. That opening will make available the aquatic center to the public.

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