The 2012 Summer Olympics begin July 27 in London, and the two-week festival of international sport features thousands of hours of television coverage, countless story lines, and plenty of drama. Here’s a guide to the London Games, including key events, statistics and New England connections to watch, as well as links to more information. Next
<b>Dates: </b>While there are some preliminary events in the days prior to the opening ceremony on July 27, the games begin in earnest next Saturday, the day after the opening ceremony. The games run through Aug. 12, when the men's basketball finals and other events will conclude, followed by the closing ceremonies.
- <a href="http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=2012%20olympics%20schedlue%20nbc&source=web&cd=4&ved=0CIwBEIwQMAM&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.nbcolympics.com%2Fresults-schedules%2Findex.html&ei=PnwJULTsOpSH0QHV3_TeAw&usg=AFQjCNHxJfiJGnH-gFkSG0cenXhjKtBPsA&cad=rja" target="blank">Here's a schedule</a>of all Olympic events Next
<b>Sports and athletes: </b>There are 26 medal sports and 39 associated disciplines in this summer's Olympics with 10,490 athletes competing. Overall, there are 302 medal events (162 men's, 132 women's, 8 mixed), hosted by 34 venues. Approximately 200,000 workers are involved with the production of the Olympics. Next
<b>Opening ceremony: </b>The Cauldron will be lit next Friday, signaling the start of the 2012 Summer Olympics. The ceremony, which features a parade of athletes, speeches, the Olympic anthem, and more, will be aired on NBC from 7:30 p.m. to midnight, although the actual ceremony is at 4 p.m. EDT Next
<b>Marquee events: </b>Here's your TV guide to the key events, featuring notable athletes Michael Phelps (pictured) and Usain Bolt, and the "Dream Team." All air on NBC.
-<b>Men's swimming 400-meter individual medley: </b>July 28, 8 p.m.
-<b>Men's swimming 200-meter individual medley: </b>Aug. 2, 8 p.m.
-<b>Gymnastics individual gold medal finals: </b>Aug. 5, 7 p.m.
-<b>Track and field gold medal finals: </b>Aug. 5, 7 p.m.
-<b>Men's basketball gold medal final (live): </b>Aug. 12, 9:45 a.m.
<b>Getting to know London: </b>While the United States has hosted eight Olympic Games, Europe's biggest city becomes the first city to host the games three times. London's population was at 7.825 million in July of 2010, 12.5 percent of Britain's population. London’s Heathrow Airport is the world's busiest airport by number of international passengers, and reportedly handled a record 236,955 passengers on July 16. Next
<b>Venues: </b>A former industrial site was transformed into an Olympic Park with eight main venues: Olympic Stadium, Aquatics Center, Water Polo Arena, Basketball Arena, Copper Box, Riverbank Arena, BMX Track and the Velodrome.
-<a href="http://www.boston.com/sports/other_sports/olympics/graphics/2012_olympics_venues/" target="blank">Here's an interactive</a> look at the Olympic venues
<b>New England connections: </b>Perhaps the most anticipated New England athlete to watch is gymnast Aly Raisman (pictured), who, along with teammates, graced the cover of this week's Sports Illustrated. The US sailing and rowing teams are packed with New England ties, too.
-<a href="http://www.boston.com/sports/other_sports/olympics/gallery/new_england_olympians/" target="blank">Here's our gallery</a> of all the Olympic athletes with New England ties
<b>Facts and figures: </b>
-529 athletes from US (Corey Cogdell is pictured)
-Youngest from US: Katie Ledecky, 15, swimming
-Oldest: Karen O'Connor, 54, equestrian
-California has most athletes with 127
-No athletes from New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Carolina and West Virginia
-US will participate in 26 of the 33 sport disciplines
-Baseball and softball dropped from games
<b>Medals race</b>The Wall Street Journal projects the US to beat China for the most overall medals. China, which beat the US in gold medals four years ago, was expected to beat the US in most gold and overall medals by the US Olympic Committee, according to The Wall Street Journal. Sports Illustrated projects the two powerhouses to match in gold medals with the US edging China in overall medals. Back to the beginning
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