RICHARD WILLIAMS is the Guardian‘s chief sports writer. Beijing was his fifth summer Games, and he was impressed
Given the existence of the appropriate stadium facilities, the day to day success of any Olympic Games is defined by the volunteers. Beijing found 70,000 young people who were unfailingly courteous and eager to help without making it seem as though they had been dragooned (although they had obviously been given a script).
For journalists, pretty well everything worked in terms of transportation and communication. The fascinating problem everybody faced was that of trying to work out the degree to which it was reasonable to expect China to be like us, and how much it could be expected to differ in terms of openness and attitudes to the freedom of the individual.
I leave Beijing feeling slightly more hopeful about London in four years’ time, and not just in respect of cheering state of the British medals table. LOCOG will never have the resources available to BOCOG, but then no one will seriously be expecting it to make such a lavish statement of national power.
London’s Games can work on a more intimate scale, perticularly if attention is paid to making the park surrounding the major facilities a place everybody in London will want to visit while the Games are on, whether or not they have a ticket. And start recruiting and training volunteers now.
The biggest star of Beijing
With all due respect to Michael Phelps, it has to be Usain Bolt. Now that’s a personality.
Among the British, Dave Brailsford.
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