Towards 2012

Well today the Beijing Olympics came to an end… And while the closing ceremony was not quite so over the top as the opening ceremony, it was still astounding, especially in terms of the lack of expense spared and the sheer numbers involved moving with split-second sychronicity. The Olympic motto is "Citius, Altius, Fortius." "Swifter, Higher, Stronger." And that has been fulfilled in these games… This has been an Olympics of superlatives. The performances of Usain Bolt on land and Michael Phelps in water… And the British athletes exceeding all expectations with their best performance in a century, the best performance by any cycling or sailing teams ever, and a medal haul which, in proportion to the size of population is 12 times as successful as China’s and over twice as successful as the Americans.
The only problem is… How can Britain top that when the show comes to London? We cannot hope to match the scale of the opening ceremony. We will be very fortunate to match the medal haul and the venues cannot possibly be as spectacular, if they actually get built on time.
We don’t have the money and will have even less if the economy keeps heading the way it is… We don’t have the people… China has nearly a quarter of the world’s population to draw on… But thankfully we also do not have a totalitarian government who are prepared to sacrifice human rights, the environment, and, it seems in some cases, fair play in pursuit of the perfect result.
Some of the happenings on the periphery of the games and in the run up have not brought much honour on China or the International Olympic committee… the forcible evictions of people whose homes were bulldozed to make way for the Olympic campus… the threatened exile to labour camps of those Chinese nationals who applied through official channels to be allowed to protest… And the withdrawal of visas to foreigners who, it was feared, may have been politically destabilising. But I pray that the window on the world that the Olympics has opened up may grant a glimpse, to both the Chinese Government and people of what the future might hold if only they were to try a different path.
But I also hope that we in Britain might not be so haunted by the spectacle of Beijing and daunted by the challenges ahead that we forget to celebrate the very real triumphs of the present. I think the right tone was set with the British input to the closing ceremony: they kept Boris the Bumbler's input to a minimum, while the rest was a tongue in cheek picture of a Britain characterised by queuing for buses in the rain… lollipop ladies and zebra crossings… Dear knows what the people of China made of all that… Then to have the searing riff of “A Whole Lotta Love” crashing out across the crowd, played by Jimmy Page and sung by Leona Lewis, was a good picture of modern multicultural Britain… young and not so young, creating something that may not be quite so regimented as China… But every bit as iconic, and loud! Not living in some stereotype of the past, or trying to be outrageously avant-garde in reaching for the future, but enjoying the moment.
And may that be true for you this day… May you build on the successes and rise above the failures of the past. May God grant you a glimpse of the future he has for you if only you will go his way… But may you not be so focused on the past or the future that you forget, to live to his glory in the here and now…

An abbreviated, earlier edition of this was broadcast as the review of the week on Downtown Radio's "Dawn Reflections on Sunday 24th August 2008.
Prompted by Cheryl Wonders I took a look at some alternative medals tables calculated on the basis of population, GDP and number of athletes per medal and GB doesn't do quite so well in any of them.


Steven said…
Beijing, please move on. The next guy in line is London. I hope London can respect the minority rights and grant full autonomy to Northern Ireland, the Falklands, Gibraltar, Wales and Scotland. Welcome to the land of football hooligans and street-peeing, drunken Brits!

And this is from USA, the country who committed mass murder of native indians and completely wiped out many tribes in their entirety.

Free Hawaii !
Free Texas !!
Free Guantanamo Bay prisoners!!!
Anonymous said…
The country that committed mass murder of native Indians!!!???? Who do you think made up the USA, People from all over Europe, Poland Germany etc. So cast the stone all around. Go back to before Christ and during his life if you want to talk about committing mass murder. Many a people were murdered just for sport. Try focusing on the postive in life which is (Jesus Christ)

Believe it or not there are alot of loving, kind, caring compastionate, giving, children of God that live in the USA. Please open your heart to all.

Love USA

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