- SUMMARY Although communicable diseases have hitherto played a small part in illness associated with Olympic Games, an outbreak of infection in a national team, Games venue or visiting spectators has the potential to disrupt a global sporting event and distract from the international celebration of athletic excellence. Preparation for hosting the Olympic Games includes implementation of early warning systems for detecting emerging infection problems. Ensuring capability for rapid microbiological diagnoses to inform situational risk assessments underpins the ability to dispel rumours. These are a prelude to control measures to minimize impact of any outbreak of infectious disease at a time of intense public scrutiny. Complex multidisciplinary teamwork combined with laboratory technical innovation and efficient information flows underlie the Health Protection Agency's preparation for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. These will deliver durable legacies for clinical and public health microbiology, outbreak investigation and control in the coming years.