“Faster, higher and stronger”. It is a mantra that echoes for as long as competitive sport abides. There is something epistemological about the constant drive for success and physical progression. Would our species have progressed from cavemen and cavewomen without it?
It would, of course, be blinkered to ignore the way in which the Olympics has changed from the ancient Games in Greece to the media-frenzied extravaganza that we know today. Excess commerce and advertising; the incongruous sponsorship from companies such as McDonalds, Coca-Cola and Cadbury’s; the venal avarice with which Olympics trademarks are “protected”; the permanent security presence and the threat of performance enhancing drugs spoiling the events. That is not to mention the litany of naysayers that bemoan the amount of money spent, the disruption to traffic and public transport and the wall-to-wall coverage that is already sweeping across the media.
However, it matters little if you do not like sport. The reach of the Olympic Games goes further than the alcove of sports fans. It is not just a sporting event, it is an event. Many recent Games have come laced with an undercurrent of pessimism in the build up, which is something that we seem to excel at in Britain. Although, with the possible exception of the Atlanta 1996 Olympic Games, every Olympiad has been a relative success.
To be clear, I am referring talking about the event itself. There are a myriad of awkward questions that London will have to face after the Games, and events in Greece this year have shown that chickens can come home to roost if a strong, well thought-out plan of what to do after the Olympics has not been created.
Already, and over the next few weeks, we have been and will be transfixed by the festival of sport. The world’s finest athletes will be in the city of London, all looking to produce the best of themselves. Memories will be forged, not only for the competitors, but the fans in attendance at the Olympic Park. These Olympics will produce unforgettable sport and multitudinous anecdotes. So many “remember when…” stories will be attached to the feast of athleticism taking place in Britain. This is not because Britain is particularly special, moreover because that is what happens at the Olympics – the setting demands nothing less.
The eyes of the world are on London. For the only occasion in many of our lifetimes, England‘s capital city has become the backdrop to human beings at their physical apotheosis. There already appears to be a genuine sense of fervour and excitement, and the Games have arrived loaded with positivity.
Following Lizzie Armitstead’s silver medal in the cycling earlier today, the excitement levels can only be expected to augment over the next few days. The Olympics appeals to the very best in human nature. While this remains the case, the Games will always be the grandest sporting event on the planet.
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