The Olympic Games is the biggest sporting event on the planet. With 26 sports, 10,500 athletes and millions of spectators, it’s going to be a busy summer.

For those of you attending the Olympics this summer, Chuck Jones has put together some survival tips.

Here is the main London spectator information website

Stand on the right on the tube

Londoners are bracing themselves for a bunch of tourists invading the city. Most want to get around quickly so walk down the escalators (moving stairs) on the Tubes. So you stand on the RIGHT and those walking down do so on the left.

You will do a lot of walking!

You start off by walking from where you are staying to where you pick up public transportation.  The Tube (probably the main mode you will be taking) will usually drop you off a distance from where the venue is located.  If you are going to the main Olympic Complex there should be a security ring around it that you will need to go through.  Then you have a walk (which can be long) to the venue.

Getting around London

For days that you have an Olympic ticket you can get a one day “Games Travelcard” for zones 1 to 9. This enables you to jump on and off buses, the Tube and trains for central London (Zone 1) and the suburbs.

For other days you should look into getting an Oyster Card which is an electronic travel card you can top up and is way cheaper than individual tickets.

Plan extra time to get to venues

As a general rule add an hour more than you would usually plan for and for the first few days of the Games add two hours if you are going any distance or having to change tube stops.  Security lines at the main complex can take up to an hour.  This is especially true at the main complex (and doubly true the first few days) since the volunteers at security will be especially diligent and not used to the crush of people.

There is a travel planning website to help plan a journey to venues

Due to the distances and time it takes to get between venues if you are going to two events in the same day don’t plan on going back to your lodging between events.  So take what you need with you.

Take some food with you to the venue

While an excessive amount of food is not allowed into a venue I strongly recommend bringing some.  While food will be available (especially if you like McDonalds, the official food provider at the Olympic Complex) you may not be near food when you get hungry and the lines can be long. So take snacks / bars, and water.

Restricted and prohibited items

There are huge security restrictions so below are some useful links to make sure you are not caught out.

Safety and Security

List of restricted items (PDF)

List of restrictions on liquids and gels (PDF)

There are strict rules on what can be brought into venues. In most cases you can bring one medium-sized soft-sided bag (under 25 liters) into venues – it needs to fit under your seat or in your lap.

One of the key restricted items is liquid containers.  They need to be under 100 ml. (3.4 fluid ounces) in size, including WATER.  Yes, that is a VERY small amount of water and VERY small bottles.  I double checked the website and actually poured out that amount into a bottle.  You can bring in up to 10 of the small bottles into a venue.

Water bottles need to be emptied before entering security. Free drinking water is available inside the venues, but it is not clear whether this means drinking fountains or small water bottles.

Sun tan lotion (yes- it may be sunny) needs to be in its original container and needs to be 200 ml or smaller.

Flags need to be under 1 meter by 2 meter in size.

Large golf-sized umbrellas are prohibited (but it looks like collapsible umbrellas are fine).

Note that prohibited items are different for football (soccer) games.  If you’re attending a football event, it is strongly suggested you do not bring a bag – if you do, your entry will be delayed and you may miss your event.

Pin trading and autographs/signatures

If you want to get athlete’s signatures I recommend using a Sharpie pen.

Pin trading is an unofficial event during the Olympics.  It is a fun way to create some memories of the Games and a fun way to kill time between events or while in transit.  Put the pins you want to trade on a hat or lanyard.  While you can display pins you want to keep I do not since those invariably seem to be the ones that others want.

It seems like everyone in the world understands the word “change”.  If you see someone with pins ask them if they are exchanging and even if they don’t speak a language you do just point at the pin or pins you would like.  While I probably wind up exchanging pins 95% or more of the times there are times that we don’t come to an agreement and that is fine.  There will be someone else to trade with soon enough.

Finally, take your Zen Head with you

The Games are a huge sporting celebration, but with security threats at the forefront of everyone’s mind, they are also a huge logistical nightmare. There will inevitably be delays, so approach this with a relaxed state of mind (Zen Head) and take something to amuse yourself in lines.


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