Beijing: The greatest show on earth

What a show. I mean, really, I thought it would be hard to top Sydney, but yesterday’s Olympic opening ceremony was genuinely breathtaking. A personal triumph for Zhang Yimou, beating Hollywood at its own game, and with the kind of spectacle on a massive scale that you would expect from China. The Chinese people can feel very proud of themselves.

And now’s the time for everyone to head out to Beijing. I may not keep up with all the coverage, but I certainly don’t begrudge the deployment of hundreds of BBC staff out there. This is the kind of huge event that only the Beeb has the resources to do properly. But Gordon Brown’s parsimonious decision not to go looks like a bit of a faux pas. Everybody who was anybody was there. Bush, and Putin, and Sarko, and anybody who really mattered. And Britain was represented by, well, Tessa Jowell and Boris Johnson. Then again, they had a plausible reason for attending, but, as Madam Miaow was saying on the radio last night, the London organisers must be scratching their heads wondering how they’re going to follow this.

One more noticeable absence. Why wasn’t the peace process represented? As a taxpayer, I’m outraged that Gregory Campbell and Barry McElduff weren’t there. They could always tell the Assembly they were on a fact-finding mission, researching the possibility of a Norn Iron bid for the Olympics. It could be held at the Maze stadium…

9 Comments

  1. harpymarx said,

    August 9, 2008 at 3:48 pm

    “the London organisers must be scratching their heads wondering how they’re going to follow this.”

    Yeah, well there may be a couple quid left in the Big Lottery fund that Tessa Jowell hasn’t swiped as yet to spend on some fairy lights and fireworks. From Beijing to Hackney Wick…..

  2. Dr Paul said,

    August 10, 2008 at 11:45 am

    Yes, how will London top this? After all, in the world of the Olympic Games, each opening ceremony must be more flamboyant than the previous one, so how can impoverished, knackered Britain hope to get anywhere near what rich, confident China has done?

    I remember the day when it was announced that London had won the 2012 Olympic siting competition. In Trafalgar Square, there was a carefully-arranged spontaneous outpouring of joy. In the café where I ate my lunch that day, just behind Waterloo station, no more than half a mile away, people were saying how it would mean more expense for ordinary folk, higher council tax, distorted infrastructural development in London (my contribution), and other realistic worries.

    Here’s a suggestion. Break from tradition. As London couldn’t possibly top China’s big show, why not do away with the opening ceremony altogether? Get rid of all the non-sporting paraphenalia — none of this ceremony has anything to do with sports — and get stuck straightaway into the running, jumping and all the rest of it. A low-budget Olympics; less expense for the likes of you and me in London, more time for people who like to watch sports.

  3. Madam Miaow said,

    August 10, 2008 at 1:32 pm

    Yes, what’s wrong with the egg & spoon race? Or rolling cheese truckles down gentle sloping verges? I think some of our athletes would look very attractive in hessian for the sack race.

    Anyway, I want my Hackney Marshes back!!!

  4. johng said,

    August 11, 2008 at 1:53 pm

    Its hype like this that was responsible for poor old Saakashvili making a terrible error.

    “But Splintered Sunrise said it was such a great extravaganza I thought no-one would notice”

  5. Maps said,

    August 11, 2008 at 11:30 pm

    Bah! It was an abysmal spectacle
    http://readingthemaps.blogspot.com/2008/08/aesthetics-of-mockery.html

  6. August 12, 2008 at 2:40 pm

    […] Splintered Sunrise is right, the Olympics are the greatest show on earth but only because we’ve started to invest in our athletes and it’s no surprise that the boxers are doing so well when they’ve been involved with the High Performance Unit for the last few years, building to Beijing all the time in the last two years as these guys won European, EU and World recognition. […]

  7. Dr Paul said,

    August 15, 2008 at 4:13 pm

    Perhaps in 2012 the small-bore shooting events could be held down the way in Lower Clapton Road. The local lads could probably outperform any Olympic team.

  8. Dr Paul said,

    August 19, 2008 at 10:54 pm

    Seeing that some of the display in Beijing was CGI-generated, and seeing that the vast bulk of spectators will be watching on the telly, why not have the entire 2012 opening palaver produced on a computer. Have a few fireworks at the main arena (if they can get anyone in there as it will probably still be filled with cement mixers and scaffolding), and do the rest of the ceremony on a PC or Mac in the studio for the telly audience.

  9. ejh said,

    August 21, 2008 at 12:44 am

    An ex-Brixton resident writes: it should in fact be referred to as the North London Olympics.

    Can anybody actually explain to me why people will get up in the small hours to watch sporting events which they have never seen or heard of and do not understand in order to cheer on people who they do not know?


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