Did you watch the closing ceremony? It might be east to forget with Phelps and Bolt seared on our minds, but many people didn’t expect these Games to turn out like this.
Let’s think back to all those days we talked about the Olympic torch relay and the row over Tibet, to Spielberg pulling out over Chinese inactivity over Darfur, to the hoo-hah over which leaders would attend the opening and closing ceremonies. Major protests during the Games were predicted.
There were promises from journalists to use this opportunity to get into China and tell us how it really is. We were told in 2001 when Beijing won the Games that the spotlight would overtime prompt concessions from a government that’s not too keen on democracy and human rights. Did these things happen
In the words of Olympic chief Jacques Rogge – “The Beijing Olympics proceeded smoothly’. And it’s impossible to disagree.
So what happened here?
Was the glory of the sport always going to knock everything else into the background? Did China simply do a brilliant job and it was that that was the story, not human rights or Tibet? Or did China just do a brilliant job of keeping the media very happy, and controlling the Olympic environment very well?
Or maybe most of you are simply not as outraged by China and its policies as some campaigners would have us believe.
THE LONG GOODBYE
I vowed my gruelling final week in front of the box would end with an overdose of basketball, handball, waterpolo, the men’s marathon and some boxing. I wanted to make my Olympic escape before the fireworks, mass gymnastics, multi-lingual speeches and the ever-present Placido Domingo got underway.
But sure enough a couple of hours I’ll never get back were spent watching Beijing say goodbye with hundreds of gymnasts on a large cylindrical thing, and London say hello with Leona Lewis on a large pole. I’m guessing the vast majority of you either saw it live or later in the news.
And whatever you thought of the closing ceremony, the end though has given a lot of us a reason to consider the whole event – what it achieved and what it failed to do. We’ll talk about this later.