SJA member JAMES LAWTON is the award-winning Independent sportswriter, has just covered his ninth Olympics and he reckons Beijing carried the Games to a new dimension
Stupendously organised, presented on a scale beyond the budget of some roughly accountable “free world” economy, the Games of Beijing, for all the moral issues and fraught politics, have carried the Olympics into a new dimension. Maybe it is an accident of history â€“ an achievement that could only have been worked by the extraordinary evolution of the worldâ€™s largest and potentially most dynamic nation, but the Olympics that follow will, like it or not, have to be judged on an entirely different level.
One thing is certain. They cannot be reproduced on the scale of investment announced by a breathtaking opening ceremony. Other Games have the incentive to be more relaxed, warmer â€“ in this Sydney 2000 retains the gold medal â€“ because they will not be accompanied by the tensions that have come with Chinaâ€™s explosive emergence on to the world scene.
Still, you can only tremble a little for all those who follow.
The challenge for London 2012 has inevitably been re-defined, and deepened, by the Beijing spectacular. However, the good news is that the brilliant success of the British team has surely created a huge swing in the perception of the Olympics across the capital and the country â€“ and their potential for the kind of revival of national pride which is so plainly necessary if following Beijing is to be a triumph rather than an embarrassment.
London cannot be better than Beijing but it can be different. If nothing else, the 29th Olympics have explained precisely the nature the challenge.
Usain Bolt, the superstar that all who love the excitement of sport must now pray is never proved to be flawed.
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