LED lighting plays prominent role in Olympic Games

Many of the events at the Olympic Games in London benefitted from the use of LED lighting, which was selected in some cases for its longevity and sustainability, and in others for its color-changing capabilities and wow factor.

London 2012 Opening Ceremony
London 2012 Opening Ceremony
The latter was the case in both the Opening and Closing Ceremony, when LEDs were used to create patterns, text and animated effects in the crowd sections. More than 70,000 LED modules, each containing 9 LEDs, were positioned next to the spectator seats (see photo). The modules were supplied by Belgium-based Tait Technologies.

9-LED modules on Olympic Stadium seats
9-LED modules on Olympic Stadium seats
As discussed in a recent article in Illumination in Focus magazine, the lighting scheme for the 2.5-km2 (246-hectare) Olympic Park had a huge focus on legacy aspects. The area will be converted to a public park after the Games, and temporary lighting posts will be removed, leaving permanent LED-based outdoor lighting.

GE’s role

GE was keen to emphasize its role as a key supplier for the London 2012 Games, including lighting for some of the most recognizable fixtures and venues.

Solar-powered LED lights in Olympic Park
Solar-powered LED lights in Olympic Park
Perhaps most prominently, GE partnered with EDF, the Mayor of London, and the City of London Corporation, to refit London’s iconic Tower Bridge with an energy-efficient LED lighting system. London will enjoy benefits from the deal long after the Games, as the new lighting system is expected to be in place for 25 years.

GE Lighting said that it has supplied 14,000 lamps for London’s 80,000-seat Olympic Stadium, as well as supplying Odyssey luminaires and ceramic metal halide (CMH) Streetwise lamps to ensure the highest levels of security within the main visitor areas in the Olympic Parks.

Also within the main Park, GE Lighting supplied 25,000 Tetra PowerMAX LED modules and Tetra LED drivers for night-time orientation lighting.

At the 15,000-capacity Olympic Hockey Centre, GE supplied specialist sports floodlights in the form of its Euroflood 2000, which has been designed with an integrated ballast compartment for high-pressure sodium (HPS) and metal halide (MH) lamps up to 600W.

Other suppliers

Memory masts in the Olympic Park
Memory masts in the Olympic Park
Because of GE’s role as a major global Olympic sponsor, its competitors are not permitted to discuss directly their role in providing lighting for the Olympic venues. However, it’s clear that Philips supplied the lion’s share of the lighting at the Olympic Park, including the iconic masts powered by vertical wind turbines, and also the LED-based lighting for pedestrian thoroughfares.

Philips also supplied lighting schemes that enabled TV broadcasting from the main venues, including the Olympic stadium, the Aquatic Centre and the Velodrome. Lessons learned from these installations are summarized in a document by Philips on the Olympics Learning Legacy website (search “lighting” at http://learninglegacy.london2012.com).

Despite a commitment to maximize the use of sustainable technologies, the London 2012 organizers were not able to specify LED lighting for many of the key tasks, including the main lighting schemes for the Olympic Stadium and other major venues. We’ll see whether LEDs have an even bigger impact at the games in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.


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