Beijing perspective: Kevin Francis

KEVIN FRANCIS covered the Beijing Olympics for the Daily Star. Here are his thoughts on how London can learn from the 2008 Games

The London 2012 team spent a month in Beijing learning what goes into making a successful Olympics. They can’t have failed to be impressed by the way in which the host nation claimed a thoroughly deserved gold medal for its organisational ability.

The Beijing Games were the seventh summer Olympics I have covered for the Star and I can honestly say they have been the best in every way. The Chinese even managed to outstrip Sydney.

From the moment that 2008 drummers started the Games beating at what was a remarkable opening ceremony, these Olympics were one long organisational success story.

China capped it all with a massive gold medal haul.

Transport infrastructure is always a key to running a successful Games and in that department Beijing gets 10 out of 10. Transporting athletes and various other arms of the Olympic family around this sprawling city did pose the organisers with a logistical nightmare. But they provided a system that worked like clockwork.

Over the years, I have heard so many angry competitors telling me that they almost missed their events because of travel problems. Not here, though. If the bus was due to collect people at 10.46am, then 10.46am it was. Rarely, if ever, was transport more than a minute late.

Can London guarantee that kind of punctuality? Can London provide the free-flowing traffic lanes?

London also needs to take note of the importance of having events running on time – again, something that the Chinese turned into a fine art here. For instance, gold medal boxing winner James DeGale was due in the ring one night at 9.46pm. What time did he climb through the ropes? You’ve got it – bang on 9.46. That’s the kind of super-efficiency London needs to be striving
for in four years’ time.

And another thing – nothing was too much trouble here for anyone working or living in Beijing. They really were a most helpful bunch of people. And they actually smiled as they assisted visitors from around the world.

More Beijing perspectives
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