Pierre De Coubertin, the founder of the modern Olympics, nobly tried to divorce the Olympics from politics. Oh, well. And that was back in 1896. But even as the Games have endured controversies over doping, bribery and the high-handed tactics of the International Olympic Committee, the beauty of sport, the spirit of the athletes and the pure meritocracy of physical ability always manage to triumph over politics. Which is why we have put together this special worldwide double issue on the Summer Olympics in London.
Depending on where you are, you may be holding in your hand--or seeing on your tablet--a beautiful cover image of Lolo Jones, Gabby Douglas, Ryan Lochte, Jessica Ennis or Homare Sawa. We commissioned the great photographer Martin Schoeller to shoot the three Americans, Levon Biss to shoot the English heptathlete Ennis, and Adam Pretty to shoot the Japanese soccer player Sawa. In the U.S., there are three cover images--of Jones, Douglas and Lochte. Ennis is running in Europe, the Middle East and Africa; Lochte in the South Pacific; and Sawa in our Asia editions.*
We've also divided up the issue into three sections: Mind, Body and Spirit. All 10,490 athletes competing in London are a blend of mind, body and spirit, but we look at specific athletes who exemplify these individual values. Senior writer Sean Gregory went to Baton Rouge, La., to talk with Jones about how the mind can make or break a champion. Assistant managing editor Bill Saporito, who oversaw this issue, went to the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs to explore who would be the fittest athlete for the Body section. And Moscow correspondent Simon Shuster traveled to Chechnya and Dagestan to write about the region's extraordinary wrestlers and how nothing can dampen their spirit of independence. International art director Victor Williams is responsible for the striking design, with dynamic infographics by Heather Jones. TIME's London office, led by Europe editor Catherine Mayer and senior editor Matt McAllester, showed Olympian endurance in conceiving, reporting and editing this issue. On your marks. Get set. Go.
Richard Stengel, MANAGING EDITOR