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

KS1 and KS2 Primary NQT Job in Lancaster Area

£85 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Preston: Randstad Education is urgently...

Supply teachers needed- Worthing!

£100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Crawley: Supply teachers needed for va...

KS1 and KS2 Primary NQT Job in Lancaster Area

£85 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Preston: Randstad Education is urgently...

Secondary Supply Teacher Lowestoft

£110 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Cambridge: Randstad are currently look...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Letter from the Personal Finance Editor: Cutting out the middle man could spell disaster for employees and consumers alike

Simon Read
Bono and Apple CEO Tim Cook announced U2's surprise new album at the iPhone 6 launch  

Metacritic and Rotten Tomatoes tell you what to think. Don't let them

Memphis Barker
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week