London 2012 Olympics: 5 best venues

The sports are the centerpiece of the London 2012 Olympics, but where they take place has been a big part of the spirit of the Games. Here are five of London's best and loudest venues.

1. Horse Guards Parade, Westminster (London)

Marcelo Del Pozo/REUTERS
Fans at Horse Guards Parade prepare for the women's beach volleyball semifinal match between China's Xue Chen and Zhang Xi and Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings of the US during the London 2012 Olympic Games Tuesday.

The best thing about the beach volleyball venue can be summed up in a single story: During a test event last year, the prime minister had to tell them to turn down the noise because it interrupting the proceedings of the British state.

  1. It is loud.
  2. It a lot of fun.
  3. It is in the prime minister’s back yard.

Putting the beach volleyball directly behind No. 10 Downing Street would be a bit like holding the Olympic shot put on the White House’s South Lawn.

Horse Guards Parade, site of Britain’s most famous military show, held every year in honor of the queen, is simply in the best spot in London. Yes, those are the chimney-tops of Downing Steet peeking over the south stand. Yes, that is Big Ben visible further in the distance – and audible whenever the noise dies down (which is rare).

And looming like a stern schoolmaster over all the bronzed bodies below is the Horse Guards building itself, lending a little bit of Whitehall stolidity to all this nonsense.

There are beach dancers, the crowd seeming incapable of not doing the wave, and of course, there are a lot of athletes not wearing much. The unceasing throbbing of the PA system, now so ubiquitous in professional sport stadiums worldwide, is not unwelcome here. In fact, it fits.

This is a party. Just don’t tell the prime minister. 

5 of 5

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.