JOHN GOODBODY, formerly the sports news correspondent of The Times for 20 years, was covering the Beijing Olympics – his 11th Summer Games – for his previous employer and its Sunday stablemate. Here, he outlines the achievements of Beijing 2008, and the lessons for London 2012
Goodbody, left, in relaxed mood with the SJA chairman, Barry Newcombe, at the MPC in Beijing
Despite its size, the Beijing Olympics were the best organised and most efficiently run sports event that I have ever attended, even if they lacked the joy of the Sydney or even the Barcelona Games.
The media facilities reflected this, with generally outstanding conditions for work, particularly in the transportation with very little wait for buses or delay in getting to venues. The Media Village was well equipped, with comfortable beds, acceptable food and much to my delight a 25-metre pool, which Charlie Sale and I (and other journalists) used regularly. The security was never oppressive, because once you were in the “Olympic bubble”, you did not have to be searched again, going into venues.
Jayne Pearce, who will be in the overall command of the press centres in London 2012, was busy making more than 50 pages of notes as she toured the sites in Beijing, seeing how London can match or even exceed the excellence of the facilities. I heard her muttering for instance at the triathlon: “The mixed zone is too small here.”
London will certainly have its work cut out to match the media facilities, particularly in the ease of the transportation from the hotels for the foreign press in Bloomsbury. Where London can do better is in providing foreign journalists with lots of interpreters. In Beijing it was largely Chinese or English.
And London can also score by making the Games the world’s biggest sports event rather than simply the world biggest event to be staged in the most efficient way possible as the Chinese did.
The biggest star of the Games
Michael Phelps, who else?
The greatest swimmer I have ever seen, and possibly the greatest Olympian.
More Beijing perspectives
Click to read the views of leading journalists