Maybe you have to host the games to understand the Olympic spirit. I am not sure if the stories about sportsmanship (sportspersonship?) and, especially, volunteering are quite so easily picked up when the games are on the other side of the world. Those little glimpses into the human beings who help make the games possible were missing from the story of Beijing I followed.
Today I heard of a competitor in the women's marathon getting water for another runner who had missed her station. It was said that this kindness may have cost her a medal. That seems to be the Olympic spirit. To win? Yes. At all costs? Probably not although Ben Ainsley came close when he felt two other sailors had ganged up on him. 'Don't make me angry or you'll help me to win.' It seemed to get personal.
On the radio yesterday morning (I have temporarily relocated from 4 to 5) Lord Coe told a story of a volunteer he met on the train who described his work as an emergency medic at the boxing. Coe thanked him for what seemed to be an essential and important role and the thanks were returned. The volunteer was doing this to get closure - he had been on duty in A&E on 7/7/05. He paid back the bad guys by not only doing his job of saving lives then but by volunteering to do it again, for nothing, in his own time, now. Take that, evil.
It has been a well-managed games. I am beginning to notice the hours of preparation that must have gone into some things that people would say are details. Those medal ceremonies for instance. No matter what the venue every one is identical (sensible safety takes away daises and high heels at the regatta). So beautifully choreographed that you don't notice the participants and all attention goes to the winners. That sort of thing attracts attention when it is done badly and is virtually unnoticed when done well. To do it well you have to practise. Invisibility, when wearing purple, requires careful preparation. I felt the same when I noticed the care two guys took over holding the tape for the end of the women's marathon. Meticulously timed to be released as soon as broken the guys then refurled their ribbon neatly and marched off in unison. Brilliant. You had to really look to notice.