While all eyes may be focused on the running and jumping in the Olympic Park, an alternative form of national competition has been unfolding across the city – in the form of Olympic hospitality houses.
From Holland’s boisterous Heineken House at Alexandra Palace to Germany’s exclusive cruise liner moored in Canary Wharf, each nation’s offering reveals a lot about how different countries choose to celebrate.
Many, such as Brazil’s Casa Brasil at Somerset House, are shameless tools of national promotion that smack more of municipal boosterism than Olympian pleasure. Here, they have managed to convert the illustrious halls of the building into a gigantic travel agent, with endless rooms draped in Brazilian fabrics and lined with photos of beaches and rainforests.
And if you were sick of London 2012 merchandise, then fear not– Rio 2016 is here!
The Russians have attempted to go a little more upmarket, in the form of Club Bosco, a reimagining of the ICA on the Mall as a luxury sports boutique bar, where you too can buy the infamous Russian Olympic kit – this jacket can be yours for only £130.
They have also managed to demonstrate what a versatile piece of branding this lurid pop-paisley print can be – by smothering every surface of the ICA with it.
A team bus has also been shrink-wrapped in the costume, and many taxis dressed are in it, shuttling oligarchs to and fro around Mayfair.
But not content with a spot on the Mall, Russia’s ambitions have spread further west, in the form of a gigantic series of tents that now occupy the lower swathes of Kensington Gardens.
For £20, you can experience the sights and sounds of snowy Sochi, home of the next winter Olympics, in “four dimensions”. My expenses budget wouldn’t stretch that far, so we can only imagine what this might mean.
Next door, there is a slightly more sorry tale. Africa Village, a £2.4 million joint initiative by 33 members of the Association of National Olympic Committees of Africa (ANOCA), has been locked up and abandoned.
News reports suggest this is due to unpaid fees – with suppliers claiming they are owed around £400,000. The project, which was billed as a bustling village of food stalls and music, had been personally backed by General Lassana Palenfo, the President of ANOCA, in the hope that it would promote a potential bid from an African country to host the 2024 Olympics and Paralympics. Let's hope this doesn't dash their chances.
Disaster was also to strike Kiwi House, which has occupied part of the new Central St Martins in Granary Square, in the form of a garden centre-esque outdoor seating area of exotic pot plants.
Hours after my visit – during which I experienced the futuristic joys of the Yike Bike – the site was up in flames, as the result of a gas canister explosion. Fortunately no one was hurt, but the palm fronds got a bit singed.
Have you been to any of the Olympic Hopsitality Houses? Let us know what you think in the comments section below...
Based at Trinity House, Austria House will host VIPs, media and athletes as well as Austrian fans and fans of Austria during the Games! A marquee in front of the house will be open to the public, offering a chance to watch the Games and experience a taste of Austrian culture. Entrance is free. 26 Jul-12 Aug
The Belgian House will be located at Inner Temple in the City of London. During the Games, supporters will be able to meet athletes from the Belgian Olympic Team. One of four Inns of Court (professional bodies for barristers and judges), Inner Temple dates back to the 12th century and The Da Vinci Code movie was filmed there.
Somerset House will be home to Casa Brasil, the official Brazilian house during London 2012. Rio is the next host for the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2016, making this a focal point during London 2012. Filled with Brazilian culture, Casa Brasil will be the perfect place to celebrate the country's sporting success. 21 Jul-8 Sep
The Czech Republic will take over the Business Design Centre in Islington for Czech House in 2012. Czech House will be a centre for the Czech Olympic Committee, the Czech Government and a wide range of associated organisations for the duration of the Games. Some events will be open to the public. 27 Jul-12 Aug
Denmark will take over St Katherine Docks for Imagine Denmark, a series of events promoting the country. There'll be Danish food and drink, demos by top Danish chefs, a chance to explore a real Viking ship, Danish fashion and design shows, plus live Olympic coverage. Entrance is free. 27 Jul-12 Aug
For a taste of France during London 2012, head to Old Billingsgate, where the French Olympic Village will host the French Olympic Team and French media companies. There'll be live broadcasts of events, interviews with athletes, plus restaurants and shops. The French House will be open to the public from 9am to 7pm.
The German House will be based in the Museum of London Docklands, and on a five-star cruise liner, MS Deutschland, in nearby West India Docks. German fans will be able to celebrate together at the Deutsches Haus Fan Fest nearby. Visitors will need tickets. 26 Jul-12 Aug
Maison D'Haiti will take the form of a special exhibition called "Discover Haiti" at the William Road Gallery, curated by Urban Zen & Nomad Two Worlds and featuring art, accessories, clothing, and home furnishings designed and produced in Haiti. Entrance is free. 25 Jul-15 Aug
Established 20 years ago, Holland House is well-known as one of the best Olympic Houses. For London 2012, Holland House will be located in Alexandra Palace. Expect a huge celebration of Dutch culture with big screens showing the Olympic action. Tickets must be bought in advance. 26 Jul-12 Aug
Enjoy some Irish hospitality at the Big Chill House in Kings Cross. The lively bar and music venue will host the Irish House, where you can watch the Games, listen to traditional Irish music and experience live entertainment. The Irish House will also be an out-of-competition base for Irish athletes and their supporters. 27 Jul-12 Aug
Sample the delights of Jamaican culture at the O2 North Greenwich Arena in London. Housed in The Bubble at The O2, the venue will offer a taste of Jamaican food and drink, music and culture. There'll also be lots of special events to mark 50 years of Jamaican independence. Some events are free, others ticketed. 3-12 Aug
Casa Italia, the Italian House, will be based at The Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, close to attractions such as Big Ben, Westminster Abbey and the EDF Energy London Eye. There'll be an exhibition featuring some of Italy's most popular products (including food and wine) and a performance centre for Italian artists.
Kenya will have its first ever house at East Gallery in Stratford, where you can experience various aspects of Kenyan culture, including sports, tourism, exports, investment opportunities, arts and heritage. There are a host of special events planned covering topics from fashion to sport. Entrance is free. 27 Jul-12 Aug
Kiwi House will showcase the best food, drink and entertainment from New Zealand. Located in Granary Square in King's Cross, the venue will offer barbeques from some of the best Kiwi chefs, specially imported Moa beer and live Olympic action on big screens. Entry costs £5 per day, excluding some ticketed events. 25 Jul-12 Aug
Theatre Royal Stratford East is hosting Nigeria House, the hub of all activities promoting and celebrating Nigeria's rich and diverse cultural heritage during the London 2012 Olympic Games. Audiences will be able enjoy a special programme and learn more about the culture of this West African nation. Prices vary. 27 Jul-12 Aug
"Bayt" means more than a house; it represents hospitality at the heart of the family. Bayt Qatar at IET London, Savoy Place is a home from home for athletes, journalists and visitors during London 2012. Bayt Qatar will host a series of events, exhibitions, and film screenings. Entrance is free. 26 Jul-12 Aug
Glaziers Hall near Borough Market will host the House of Switzerland. The building and surrounding area will be transformed into a vibrant Red Zone, with concerts, films, food, special events including a celebration of Swiss National Day on 1 August, and an artist-led project for kids called The House of Fairy Tales. 20 Jul-12 Aug