Being in a country where the national sport is Cricket which doesn’t feature at the Olympics, and other sports are so far off the radar you probably won’t even be able to read about them on Wikipedia, the Olympics have been relatively low key over here – with the exception of when Bindra won his gold medal the other day.
However, I couldn’t be more amazed at Team GB’s stunning performance, then best in over 100 years. Everyday I check the results and more good news is flowing out. It does make you sit back and go, “what the hell? We’re not supposed to be this good”. The fact that we are 3rd in the current medals table (err, 3rd, or maybe 5th, see below…) and ahead of the likes of Australia, Germany and Russia is, quite frankly unbelievable. Since I can remember, Team GB has been mediocre at best, poor at other times.
The other thing I’m hugely impressed with is how well the Olympics seem to have been run so far. Even the BBC, scathing in its attacks on China in the build up, has become more and more positive as the days go by. Ignoring the whole human rights stuff for a (brief) second, China has put on a show and organized the event to a standard that few other countries in the world could achieve. You might say America could do as well, but don’t forget that the 1996 Atlanta Olympics was lambasted for being something of a shambles. Australia did a fine job, but as well as China? It would be a close call.
True, China have had the luxury of a blank cheque in order to pull it off, and spent upwards of $40bn to make it all happen, would other countries be able to organize it as well if they had that kind of budget?
This brings me on to the 2012 Olympics, I’m yet to find one Brit who believes that we’ll put on a good show. I’m not sure if it’s our typical dour, downplaying, somewhat negative nature, but confidence is not high that Britain will make a good job of staging the Olympics. For starters, there’s the budget. We are still four years off, and the budget has tripled in cost since the original bid was placed.
Then there is the construction and organization. In a place like China where there is a single party to make all decisions, decisions suddenly become a lot easier to make when there’s no opposition. In the UK, there will be opposition to virtually everything that they try and do. There will be committees, think takes, sub-committees, all trying to make a decision, but ultimately delaying everything and costing us (well, you guys living in London) a whole lot more.
But, to end on a lighter note, at least we are not as vain as the Americans.
In a desperate attempt to show Team America as the greatest sporting team in history, the American sports sites have come up with a new way of presenting the medals table. For them, no longer is it the case of the team with the most gold medals is at the top. Nope, that’s no good because China have run away with that title. To save face, they have changed their medals table to order the countries by total number of medals, veering away from the tradition, normal way it’s always been done.
The official site of the Olympics displays the countries in the traditional method too.
So, the question is, why do American sites feel compelled to change the way they rank the countries? Upset that they are no longer number one? Regardless, with the way China have been so rampant in winning medals, they might top both American and rest of the world tables by the end of the Olympics!