Long before the London Olympics began, organizers circled one date on their calendars: Aug. 4.
That day, they figured, would be by far the busiest days at the Games with 25 gold medals up for grabs and swimming events overlapping with track and field.
Attendance has already been running fairly strong at the Games. Organizers say roughly 560,000 people have been attending Olympic events every day. Another 221,000 people per day have entered the Olympic Park, which includes the Olympic stadium, aquatic centre and several other venues. Ticketholders to the Park don't get access to the venues but they can walk around the grounds which include shops, displays and a giant outdoor screen.
Organizers predicted those attendance numbers to soar this weekend and so they took the extraordinary step of restricting access to a shopping mall adjacent to Olympic Park and the Stratford train station. That’s no easy task. The mall, called Westfield, opened last year and it is considered the largest in Europe.
Only people holding tickets to Olympic events were allowed into Westfield on Friday and part of Saturday. “It really made a difference,” a clerk at a Marmot clothing store said Saturday. “There were a lot less people.”
The restrictions were lifted Saturday afternoon as the crowd began to thin somewhat.
The extra traffic has also put a strain on London’s transportation network but so far it has been holding up. The underground broke daily records this week, hitting 4.25 million passengers on Wednesday and 4.35 million Thursday. That’s about 1 million more people using the subway than on a typical day in August.