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January 26 , 2010

The Austerity Olympics

When the Games Came to London in 1948


‘An enthralling account’ Independent

‘A fascinating book… researched with an awesome thoroughness’ Daily Telegraph

‘Hampton’s excellent book should be compulsory reading for everyone involved in the 2012 London Olympics’ Daily Mail Critic’s Choice

The budget for the 2012 Olympic village alone is already a billion pounds short. The likelihood of corporate sponsorship recedes with every day of the credit crunch. How on earth are we going to match the opening and closing ceremonies of Beijing, let along top them? Fortunately, London has been through just such hard times before in the run-up to an Olympics, and in 1948 it showed just how to run a fantastic Games on a tiny budget – indeed, make them all the better for it.
Janie Hampton’s book about the last time the Olympics came to London is a tale of female competitors sewing their own kit, teams ferried to the Games on red London buses and billeted in Spartan hostels or even army camps, and the main stadium being hastily cleared of greyhound racing to allow the athletics to take place. The total budget was £760,000, great athletes like Emil Zatopek and Fanny Blankers-Koen thrilled the crowds, and at the end a profit was turned! This is a book that becomes more relevant and ironically entertaining every day nearer to 2012.

Janie Hampton is also the author of a bestselling biography of Joyce Grenfell. She lives in Oxford

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