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OlympIAN1981

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  1. I have to say, I was in Trafalgar Square this afternoon to catch a segment of the torch relay, and the atmosphere was charged, to say the least. The police looked very alert and expectant, and growing crowds of Pro-China and Pro-Tibet protesters were separated either side of a main thoroughfare from Nelson's Column to the National Gallery steps. At some points, the two crowds started shouting and booing at each other with a certain level of vitriol, and standing in the middle of that as an innocent fan just wanting to get a glimpse of the flame was very unsettling. I also found it very interesting that the pro-China crowd had very professionally printed Beijing 2008 branded flags and banners. In the brief time I was there, I saw two protesters who made for the torch efficiently moved away by police with only an appropriate amount of force, and I can only praise their hard work in keeping the event safe for all involved. As for the flame itself, I realise now watching back the live coverage that the reason I caught only a glimpse of the flame was that it was removed from such an open and indefensible position as Trafalgar Square with great speed, as the penny had clearly dropped in terms of increased security by that point. As a simple fan of the Olympic games, and a believer in the Olympic ideal, I was honoured to get my first ever glimpse of the Olympic flame, but will never forget the sad circumstances under which it happened. The experience has left me with the strong belief that Beijing 2008 will be remembered more for politics than for than any of the sport. I find myself now extremely worried about what is going to happen as this flame makes its way to Beijing - a "Journey of Harmony" it most certainly isn't going to be, and we were lucky today that no-one was hurt in London, and that no violence broke out. But will we be able to say that of other cities on the route? I guess we'll just have to wait and see, but I think BOCOG may need to ask itself some questions about this torch relay judging by today.
  2. I think it will be interesting to see what happens in China during and in the few years after the Games. Bringing myriad people with differing views or the world to your doorstep in the way the Olympics does has got to have a certain transformative effect on local people. No matter how much a totalitarian regime succeeeds in controlling the media, you can't control the exchange of ideas that thousands of Olympic visitors can bring, and you certainly can't stop people talking to each other. I think China will be an interesting place to watch in 2009 onward. The are some that say that Moscow 1980 may have in a small way played a part in the eventual dissolution of the Soviet Union, 10 years later. Who knows what China 2018 might look like?
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