Gold standard

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The Independent Online

Admittedly, a word-association game that kicked off with the word "Olympics" would, given the events of recent years, quickly follow with "illegal drugs" or "bribery". The sense that the games are an event of untarnished ideals is long gone, if it was ever truly there.

Admittedly, a word-association game that kicked off with the word "Olympics" would, given the events of recent years, quickly follow with "illegal drugs" or "bribery". The sense that the games are an event of untarnished ideals is long gone, if it was ever truly there.

None the less, the pizzazz and enthusiasm and sheer love of life at the Sydney Olympics is a joy all of its own. It makes it possible, for a moment, to forget the murk. For many years, the Olympics were clouded by resentful politics. Now, politics - when it impinges - is upbeat, as with the remarkable spectacle of North and South Korean competitors walking hand in hand.

On the one hand, we have astonishing achievements, such as that of the giant-boy Ian Thorpe, who led Australia's relay team to a new world record yesterday, thus winning his third Olympic gold. On the other hand, we have performances such as that of the 22-year-old Eric Moussambani from Equatorial Guinea, cheered to the rafters merely for finishing his 100m swim.

Sydney has produced Olympic Games - so far - for pure pleasure. Long may they stay that way.

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