Leading article: An unforgettable fortnight

Share
Related Topics

At yesterday's Olympic closing ceremony, the International Olympic Committee president, Jacques Rogge, neglected to bestow the now traditional accolade on the Beijing games as being "the best ever". But that is an omission that seems unlikely to worry the Chinese hosts. The Communist Party leadership has got just about everything it wanted out of these games. Most important, China did not "lose face". The organisation was smooth. The attention to detail was impressive. Beijing's pollution was not, in the end, a significant issue. And, aside from a minor controversy about "faking" in the opening ceremony, the games were not disfigured by any real scandal.

Just as significantly, from the perspective of the organisers, there were no political boycotts. The world's most powerful national leaders all dutifully turned up to either the opening or the closing ceremony. China will thus feel that it has achieved its goal of cementing a leading position for itself on the world stage.

So much for the geopolitical power games. Thankfully, all that was mostly overshadowed by the sporting action over the past fortnight. The achievement of the American swimmer, Michael Phelps, in winning eight gold medals in the Water Cube is unlikely to be forgotten. Nor will the feat of the Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt, who broke three sprint world records in the Birds' Nest Stadium. But the action was extraordinary across the board – and from start to finish. Even the final athletics event, the men's marathon, was an enthralling spectacle, defying predictions that the heat would lead to a dull race.

These games also delivered more than anyone could have hoped for from a British sporting perspective. The gold rush from our swimmers, cyclists, rowers and sailors made this the United Kingdom's best ever modern Olympic performance. The brilliance of our young athletes has been nothing short of a national inspiration.

And, of course, the end of the Beijing games marks the official beginning of London's Olympic adventure. If there is one message that organisers of London 2012 should take from Beijing, it is that trying to match the scale of the Chinese capital's games would be folly. As has been pointed out on numerous occasions over the past two weeks, the £9.2bn budget for the London games does not come close to what was spent on Beijing. London's ambitions must, by necessity, be more modest.

Yet this need not mean we are destined to showcase an inferior games. We should remember that, for all the extravagance of the opening and closing ceremonies, for all the impressiveness of the facilities, what really made Beijing special was the sport. As long as London facilitates a similar exhibition of sporting excellence in four years' time, we will not go far wrong.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

A happy ending for celebrity memoirs

Katy Guest
William Hague with his former special adviser, Christopher Myers  

Who needs special advisers? We all do

John Rentoul
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

Marian Keyes

The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick