Confession time….I was a cynic and doomster about the London 2012 Olympics. In 2005 I was hoping Paris would get the time bomb and we could avoid all the expense and inconvenience. It seemed a classic piece of Blairite New Labour grandstanding, as empty and vapid and meaningless as the Millennium Dome.
In the weeks beforehand my pessimism meter dial hit the red zone as transport unions blackmailed extra bonuses, private security companies failed to deliver and predictions of traffic chaos and empty seats filled the pages of the Daily Mail eager, as always, to always play Cassandra.
Then it all changed. An brilliantly orchestrated opening ceremony that captured the essence of our quirky, eccentric, self deprecating British spirit segued us into a fortnight of sporting drama. No transportation problems, no security breakdowns, no violence, just day after day of pure unadulterated enjoyment.
We were on holiday in Italy for most of the time so just got to see bits and pieces of the action from screens in the restaurants and bars surrounded by Italians and Germans. Imagine how good it felt to gloat (inwardly, of course) as our sportsmen and sportswomen piled on the gold medals….
And, after that magnificent Olympic cauldron was finally extinguished and the Mayor of Rio took hold of the Olympic flag I suddenly remembered……..Mitt Romney and his cheerleaders at the US conservative blog Hot Air. Even with the rest of the world praising London 2012 resident blogger Allahpundit was sustaining his glass half empty schtick, pursing his lips and flaring his nostrils at the closing ceremony…..
Sorry, Allah (as I commented at his post), I think the rest of the world will pay more attention to the response of the Aussies whose 2000 Sydney Olympics have, up till now, been regarded universally as the benchmark of success. Down under they rate the 2012 Games as even better than Sydney and, coming from Oz, that is praise indeed.
As for the closing ceremony it is always more of a party atmosphere and the audience and the athletes in London obviously enjoyed it. In lengthy celebration there will always be low spots and Russell Brand fits that bill admirably. The rest of it, however, was great fun.
But then Hot Air has systematically waxed eeyore over the London Games. That might be because of an inbuilt tendency to regard anything outside the USA as weird/outlandish but it is more likely to be due to the fact that Atlanta 1996 was not one of the best summer Olympics or that Salt Lake 2002 winter Olympics had to be rescued from a bribery and corruption scandal.
As for Mitt, is he man enough to eat his own words and offer his congratulations to Lord Coe, the man who organised the best ever summer Olympics, and to the British people who embraced the Games with a fervour unmatched in modern times?
Just askin’ as our American friends might say…..