London 2012: More than 2m fans visit London for Games


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The Independent Online

Over 2 million visitors have arrived in London to support the Games, making it the biggest crowd event in the city's history.

Describing the staggering crowds just three days in as a “never ending tide of humanity”, Boris Johnson said: “The sheer numbers turning out to show their support for the Games is incredible.”

Danny Boyle’s £27 million opening ceremony is thought to have added to the clamour to be in London.

About 1.5 million turned out over the weekend to free events across the capital while 500,000 paid to attend sports at Olympic venues. Well over one million fans lined the streets during the weekend’s cycling road races.

Hundreds of thousands also flocked to Olympic Live sites including those at Hyde Park, Victoria Park, Trafalgar Square and Potter’s Field at City Hall, where they could watch the sport on giant screens.

Tens of thousands more are in London for the Cultural Olympiad. The Emirates cable car carried a record 26,000 people on Saturday.

The Mayor said: “Hundreds of thousands braved sunstroke on Saturday and storms on Sunday to line the road race course. The live sites in the parks are packed. And it seemed at times yesterday that a never ending tide of humanity was sweeping towards the Olympic Park from Stratford.”

He added: “Most events are packed to the rafters, and where Games family seats are empty they are quickly being filled. The key thing is spectators seats are full. Their support has been amazing.” A senior travel source added: “We believe it’s well over two million already. The numbers have been huge. It has been fantastic.”

The Hyde Park live site is expected to be packed today, with as many as 80,000 people in the park. And Games officials said about 50,000 spectators are expected at the equestrian event.

Shadow Olympics minister Tessa Jowell said: “The huge attendances at the free un-ticketed events show more clearly than anything else that Londoners are determined to be part of the action and celebrate the Olympics.

“The whole intention of our London 2012 Games was to create a million ways for people to be part of this. It is about making this inclusive.”

But she called on the IOC to do more in future to prevent empty seats and locals being “shut out” of events.

She added: “The huge crowds seen at free events is why this tickets issue is so pungent. It runs counter to so much of the things we’ve been trying to do. The short term solution is for organisers to do more and more to open up the events to people who can get there at short notice.

“It is probably too late for this Olympics but in the long term the IOC has to be much more sensitive to the strong feelings in host cities when people are effectively shut out of events because they are told they are sold out.”

Peter Hendy, London’s Transport Commissioner, said: “We had a fantastic opening weekend to the Games with the crowds out in force to support the men and women in the Cycle Road Races with one million spectators for both races lining the streets of London and Surrey.”

Olympics Minister Hugh Robertson said: “The atmosphere on The Mall for Lizzie Armitstead’s silver medal yesterday was electric.”