Overall - I believe these Games will be looked back at as a great success. The venues were spectacular, no horror stories about transportation/organization and the athletic achievements were incredible. The Beijing Games are worth being remembered as one of the greatest ever - but in the end nowhere near the success of some other of the recent Games.
Some problems - the empty seat issue was not something I expected at THESE Games. The vagariess of the weather and the smog of the early days of the Games. The reports of lack of a games atmosphere outside the venues and throughout the city. The lack of much (or any) social progress that was promised in preparation for these Games.
But in the end, these Games - organized and planned within an inch of their life - couldn't achieve the one thing that you cant plan for.
Since I have been following the Games (1976 - on), I have seen successful Games, unsuccessful Games, middle of the road Games - but I have only seen 3 Games that I would say were truly magical. Los Angeles - 1984, Lillehammer - 1994, and Sydney 2000.
In each instance - it was not (just) the successful organization of the Games, but instead moments in time when a city and a nation fell in love with their Olympic Games and created an almost once in a lifetime synergy with the athletes to create a magical fortnight.
Again, this isn't something that you can plan for. It's just somthing that you have to let happen.
I get the feeling that if the government of the People's Republic of China would have had a little more faith in the actual People of China - there could have been a little bit of this magic.
Not to say these Games were unsuccessful - they rank among the best for sure (a 4 star experience). But they could have been more.
So the way I see it since 76 -
Los Angeles 1984