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Your verdict on the London 2012 Games


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I can imagine that one of the "rules" of the volunteers in London was/is: TRY TO UNDERSTAND A QUESTION OF A PERSON, WHO DOESN'T SPEAK ENGLISH PERFECTLY.

I didn't meet a volunteer, who wasn't helpful, but I had to recognise, too, that it is more difficult to ask somebody about a very special issue, which is very important for you to get to an event in time or to discuss here something...

On the first day in Greenwich I wanted to know if there will be a "one-way-system" from Greenwich station to the Greenwich Park Equestrian Venue - that was important for me, since our flat was very close to the venue and I had to use the street to the station at times, when many people go to the venue...

I asked some volunteers, but of course they are focussing on the issues of people, who go to the venue, but my question was a little bit conflictive - it took a little bit until we understood each other - but it worked...

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I can imagine that one of the "rules" of the volunteers in London was/is: TRY TO UNDERSTAND A QUESTION OF A PERSON, WHO DOESN'T SPEAK ENGLISH PERFECTLY.

I didn't meet a volunteer, who wasn't helpful, but I had to recognise, too, that it is more difficult to ask somebody about a very special issue, which is very important for you to get to an event in time or to discuss here something...

On the first day in Greenwich I wanted to know if there will be a "one-way-system" from Greenwich station to the Greenwich Park Equestrian Venue - that was important for me, since our flat was very close to the venue and I had to use the street to the station at times, when many people go to the venue...

I asked some volunteers, but of course they are focussing on the issues of people, who go to the venue, but my question was a little bit conflictive - it took a little bit until we understood each other - but it worked...

LOL! Well I guess it's time to deflate one bubble. The GamesMakers were wonderful, but they didn't know EVERYTHING. Indeed they were sometimes clueless.

There were a few times when I went up to them asking directions for the best way to get to a particular place, and they would sheepishly umm and uh, ask their partners for help, and then if that didn't work resort to looking up their own Underground maps and timetables (when I'd already done so, and was just wondering if I'd planned the best route or not). Sometimes I felt I knew the direction better. I mentioned this to one of them, and she laughed, and said the joke amongst themselves was that they must have come down from “Newcastle” (that always seemed to be the town they picked) for the games and didn't know London.

Then there was the LOCOG site travel planner, which I know Marts and I discussed during the games. I'm sure it tried to give you routes that took you on a very roundabout way to where you wanted to go, hours before you needed to be there, and tried to steer you away from the most direct route (I guess that's understandable to try and spread congestion). For example, for a lark on one of the last days, I went to the site to see how it would tell me to get from Greenwich to North Greenwich (which I knew was straightforward – simply the DLR to Canary Wharf and then change to the, Jubilee line I think, and then just stop to North Greenwich). The LOCOG site, in contrast, would have had me going to London Bridge hours ahead of when I planned to go, catching the National Rail to somewhere else, a bus from there to another station and then to North Greenwich.

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I talked with T. yesterday on the phone and he told me he had the problem when he was going to the airport, that Green Park was "closed" due heavy traffic so he couldn't change from Jubilee into Piccadilly there - he had to go back to Westminster and took District to Barons Court to change into the Piccadilly there...

Yeah, of course the Gamesmakers were not all from London - I wouldn't have asked the volunteers if I had known the short-cut through Alfrege park at that time anyway...

I just feared that I have to run to Greenwich Station and everybody is heading Greenwich High Road/Evelyn Road down to Greenwich Park - that would have been "terrible"...

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I just feared that I have to run to Greenwich Station and everybody is heading Greenwich High Road/Evelyn Road down to Greenwich park - that would have been "terrible"...

That happened to me just about every time I went there!

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Yeah but I recall he had to rush it because the local authority wouldn't permit Wimbledon to stay open after 11! Can you imagine that happening at the US or Australian Opens?

Sorry to post something after so many others have come and gone, but I had to do something very important which is called "sleep".

Anyhow, I actually thought about it this year, and to be honest, I preferred it before when they stopped at twilight, because I got to see other TV and do other things like cooking without having to rush in from the kitchen each time I heard a cheer.

But if you have someone to cook for you or you just eat crisps, then that's never going to be an issue :P:lol:

(By the way Mainad, concerning my post of yesterday at about half past seven, I knew faster was a Paris supporter - my wording was supposed to reflect a conspiratorial innocence in humour rather than a naïve comment which requires clarification afterwards, but nonetheless thanks for taking the time to explain it to me!)

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Too radical and INNOVATIVE. Not traditional enough.

Do you mean the whole thing or just the opening and closing ceremonies? :)

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Too radical and INNOVATIVE. Not traditional enough.

On the contrary i though London's ceremonies were original.

But for me it was all or nothing most of the time, the industrial part & the musical parts were good, i didn't like the countryside part & the nurses part was just bad for me.

Also they focus a little bit too much on the history of music. I know it's a huge part of England's culture but at some part it really looked like a concert and nothing more.

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A Napoleon complex does not require aggression -- just over compensation for something one feels to be a deficiency.

I am not just talking about the media either. For example, the content of the ceremonies was trying extra hard to say "We're proud of being British." Yes, all ceremonies showcase the host nation's culture -- of course. But Britain tried to cram in everything but the kitchen sink. They tried to look fun and young, they tried to look historically imposing, they tried to look sophisticated, they tried to look high-tech.

They tried and tried and tried and the effort really showed. It wasn't an effortless "Welcome! We hope you have a great time!" It was a very self-conscious "We've bent over backwards and we really hope you'll like us and if you don't we don't want to hear about it because we know we're the best ever! (we have our secret doubts, but we'll never admit to them) WE ARE THE BEST EVER!! (you agree, right?? Please don't say anything about Beijing, ok?) WE ARE THE BEST EVER!!!!!"

That was the vibe I got the whole way through the Games. Even Seb and Boris claiming the cauldron was perfect and the rest of the world was crazy struck me as a PR move driven by denial and secret insecurity.

This impression came through to me in the intangibles. It's not as simple as media coverage -- it's the feeling I had all the way through the Games at many points in many contexts -- including (but not limited to) the British posters on these boards.

God - how I have just laughed - pisshed myself! You have provided me with the highlight of the games - I just can't stop laughing! Such a shame I missed most of your insights during the games! Great observations - you are so insightful & gifted & all this when you weren't even there! Belly laughing - puddles of pee @ my feet - please don't stop being you!!!

I didn't find the ceremonies radical or innovative. Just messy and disjointed.

The best ceremonies ever - the best games ever - simply the best! Here's looking @ you kid! Lol!!!

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So, It's fair to say I have been very positive about London 2012.

It is of course the greatest event in human history, pushing the moon landing into 2nd place.

BUT, I have something negative to add.

The food in the workforce/volunteer canteen.

The hot food looks like slop. However the salad bar is nice, including pasta, potato salad and a choice of meats.

But I think i'll stick mainly to the McDonald's they have there.

----

For those who don't know, the canteen is based behind the Athletes Village main dining hall and those working receive 1 meal voucher for a 6+ hour shift. 10.5 hour shifts get 2.

And apparently the fried breakfasts are bad.

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There will NEVER be a perfect or Best Games. Then there will always be at least TWO perceptions: (1) those who were on the ground; and (2) those watching from TV. Both are valid because both have witnessed and experienced the same event...but from different lenses.

And, of course, for understandable reasons of pride, many citizens of the host nation will always place their Games as the best.

But the Games are really, at best, a multi-faceted prism; it can be viewed from many angles...and ALL are truly valid.

..

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Even though I'm a relative newbie in these forums, I thought I'd contribute some of my thoughts on the topic of London 2012 as well. May I add that I only watched them on TV, rather than having the privilege of actually being at the venues and sampling the Olympic atmosphere. I was in London earlier this summer, and even then I could perceive a distinct buzz.

ATMOSPHERE: In one word, the spectators were fantastic - the Brits applauded every athlete, no matter from what nation. I was thoroughly thrilled to see the passion of the public for the Games. I loved the Union Flags being waved - and hearing "God Save the Queen" being sung in the Olympic Stadium on Super Saturday was a true goosebump moment, even through the television coverage. I truly envy those who were able attend on that night. It was great seeing the public (including those who didn't have tickets, but who went to the Live Sites) proving the perennial naysayers wrong. And the walking/running in the city centre itself proved the enthusiasm of the wider public for the Games. I'll never forget the images of the Mall, Buckingham Palace and Hyde Park playing host to some of those events. And the weather behaved as well! Contrary to a couple of forists, I don't believe the Brits were being nationalistic. No one was booed or shunned by ignorance (see: the Argentinian bronze medallist in Wimbledon, for instance or the reception Germany got at the Opening Ceremony). Brits can separate sports from politics, from what I can tell.

TRANSPORT: I will admit that when I went to London earlier this summer, I thought "Goodness, how're they gonna cope?". It was a moment when I had just hopped on the Central Line in the midst of rush hour. The panic caused by various newspaper reports probably contributed to the transport system working a treat. Apart from a couple of minor glitches on the Central Line, the Underground system coped extremely well. Games Lanes, which were causing a massive discussion prior to the Games, ended up being opened up to the general public literally 48 hours after the Opening Ceremony.

CEREMONIES: For anyone who has some idea of British history, this was a genuinely beautiful Opening Ceremony. Starting with the melody of "East Enders", it was a tribute to fascinating bits of modern British history. The Pandemonium segment with the molten Olympic RIngs was a "wow" moment for me. The Queen possessing a sense of humour and being a sport about being filmed with Daniel Craig was pretty cool. The National Anthem: Well, I was actually hoping for more pomp and circumstance - something along the lines of Julie Anthony singing "Advance Australia Fair" at the OC of Sydney 2000. But again, this is a personal preference. The NHS bit - interesting, especially for anyone who appreciates the British commitment to free healthcare for all its inhabitants. But what about wider literature? Yes, they quoted from "The Tempest" - but there was so much more (traditional) literature they could have gone for as well. "Mary Poppins" and "Harry Potter" were good references, so it's all good.

I quite enjoyed the romance/multicultural family bit, but mainly because of the music and the tribute to Tim Berners-Lee. Ditto for the London Symphony, Simon Rattle and (especially) Rowan Atkinson...that guy proves the adage that sometimes to say say something, you don't need to talk much. "Abide by Me" was a poignant element - but (and again, matters are controversial discussed here), I believe that the IOC missed a major moment to comemmorate the Munich 11 (plus the German police officer who also died in the attempt to rescue them). I won't rehash the discussion here, but the memorial wall only created a further chasm in perception. Even more stale is the seeming admission by Thomas Bach that the IOC basically cowed to Arab states.

The Parade of Nations (and I think this is controversially discussed every four years): Way too long. Yes, I recognize that the world is a different place from 1988 or the last Olympics in Germany, in 1972. But surely, there must be ways to cut down on the length. One idea might be to restrict participation to athletes only, rather than including officials as well. The signs for the individual nations were probably meant to convey some level of youthful playfulness - but a more formal approach (proper board with a formal font) would have done the event more justice. I did enjoy the music during the Parade, though - and I really liked the moment when Team GB walked in to the strains of David Bowie's "Heroes". Absolutely brilliant! Arctic Monkeys are very Britain-specific, but anyone who has been in touch with that music will have enjoyed it.

The speeches: Lord Coe, uplifting and inspiring - and gracefully short in length. Jacques Rogge, somewhat dour and staid, a bit boilerplate with reference to de Coubertin and the fight against doping. The Queen discharged her duty to open the Games of the 30th Olympiad with grace and aplomb. I really enjoyed the somewhat positive detachment she demonstrated as the nation's head of state on that evening.

Afterwards, the Olympic Flag: Well...I do have my gripes with the list of people (and I had those in Turin as well). Surely, at least some of the home nation's athletes should be allowed to carry the flag? Maybe I'm just being petty, but some of the choices could have been different. The presence of Muhammed Ali, someone I admire as a truly inspiring sportsman: The negative point for me. He was a shadow of his former self - and the attempts to have him touch the Flag were, well, painful to watch. The Olympic Anthem's instrumental arrangement is something I was split about: I guess I'm a bit of a purist on this one, and since London has a vibrant Greek community (similar to Sydney), I was expecting it to be sung in the beautiful Greek version. The oaths were carried out without much fanfare.

The lighting of the cauldron: Completely unexpected, and the idea of 204 petals rising to become one Flame of Unity was beautifully executed. I also liked the move away from the "Famous Athlete" narrative in cauldron lightings. However, I guess the only way this could have been topped would have been for the cauldron to be lit by those young and former Olympians from Britain. Basically, the young and the old creating a new future for the Olympic Games - together. But overall, amazing. And that's where the night could just have ended (as it did in Sydney). Not sure about Macca's appearance. David Bowie would sure as heck have brought the house down, but he was apparently unavailable. So, overall grade for the Opening Ceremony: A.

I have to add that I'm somewhat biased since I can relate to the cultural and historical references in the ceremony.

BUT the Closing Ceremony was, well, a bit of a let-down. It felt incoherent and only strengthened me in my conviction that as far as closings are concerned, we can easily cut down on the time from 3 hours to 1-1.5 hours tops. Just include and celebrate the elements that are protocol (entry of athletes, the flags being hoisted, the next host's presentation, the extinguishing of the Olympic Flame, the marathon ceremony) , celebrate the athletes with one or two musical performances that are poignant (and if need be, a video montage recalling the best moments of the Games) and then, take a bow. Sometimes less is more. Overall grade: C.

THE SPORTS: In one word? Awesome. There are so many moments I can think of, both happy and tragic. Rebecca Adlington's failed quest to defend her Olympic victories, the Korean fencer made to sit on the stage for an hour, Super Saturday, the British cycling victories, Phelps being Phelps, Chad le Clos edging Phelps out (and his Dad's legendary reaction to his "beautiful boy")...the spate of diverse winners in the swimming pool, Felix Sanchez literally overwhelmed by emotion after his 400m hurdles victory, Sally Pearson's victory in the 100m hurdles (and her stunned reaction), the Jamaicans (the Bolt-Blake "rivalry"), Kierani James, Gabi Douglas winning her event...and I could go on and on. So many memories, so many great athletic achievements and moments of human endeavour. It was the Olympics at their very best!

Only gripe I have: They could have led the marathon route into the Olympic Stadium for a fitting welcome. But then, I think the stage needed to be set for the Closing Ceremony. Again, this is a purist gripe, so feel free to ignore it.

ORGANIZATION: Excellent. Yes, ok, so they mixed up the Korean flags (and the North Koreans threw a hissy fit, as they always do) and the seats for the Olympic Family weren't exactly full on Day 1. But LOCOG got their judgment right, they reacted in all the right ways (opening contingents up to the wider public). From the venues to the conduct to the armed forces, the Games were a model for breathtaking efficiency.

OVERALL JUDGMENT? Well, I'm not gonna do a JAS and engage a practice of declaring any Games "the best ever". Nor will I engage in a game of one-upmanship and say "Oh no, my Games were the best and yours sucked, because...". As Baron rightly alluded to, every Games had beautiful moments that made it special. Every country brings its own spirit into the organization and execution of the Games. London clearly seems to have a plan for its legacy issues, but let's wait for 10 years to see how that went. What is clear, though, is the fact that these Games will be remembered for their lively, authentic and joyful atmosphere. Games full of life - contrast this with Beijing, which (despite the perfect organization and commitment of the Chinese government) lacked an important thing: heart. I know, others may disagree with me, but the love of the Brits for these Games shone through. Surely, this will be one of the memories worth preserving. The Olympic Games don't need to be gigantic and "the best ever" - this trend only encouraged megalomania and white elephants. If the Games are to have a long-term future beyond emerging economies, they need to get smaller and more intimate. Sometimes less is more.

In my view, these were amazing Summer Games. Indeed, happy and glorious. For a future bid, we Germans should aim to replicate that spirit of joy and inspiration. My compliments to the Brits!

And yes, I'm now looking forward to the new frontier called "Rio de Janeiro". The Brazilians will do it their own way - and I'm sure they will carry it out splendidly.

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Thanks for that well written and lucid summary, Plusbrilliantsexploits. Intriguing name by the way!

I was in complete agreement with you on this one:

"Only gripe I have: They could have led the marathon route into the Olympic Stadium for a fitting welcome. But then, I think the stage needed to be set for the Closing Ceremony. Again, this is a purist gripe, so feel free to ignore it."

I watched the women's marathon with family and confidently told them that it would finish up in the stadium just like it did in Beijing. I felt a bit foolish and crestfallen when they just crossed a line on the Mall for the finish. The final laps around the stadium in Beijing to the thunderous applause of the spectators made for a truly exciting climax. I wonder why London couldn't have done the same? I was as surprised and disappointed as you with that one.

By the way, I'd like to compliment you on the excellence of your English. Couldn't spot a single grammatical error and it was all so beautifully worded and phrased. Did you grow up bilingual or did you just learn it at school/college etc.? Either way, I'm very impressed (although I find the level of English shown by nearly all the German posters on here to be generally very impressive). :)

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I watched the women's marathon with family and confidently told them that it would finish up in the stadium just like it did in Beijing. I felt a bit foolish and crestfallen when they just crossed a line on the Mall for the finish. The final laps around the stadium in Beijing to the thunderous applause of the spectators made for a truly exciting climax. I wonder why London couldn't have done the same? I was as surprised and disappointed as you with that one.

I wondered about that, too. I think it had to do with the poor scheduling of Athletics at Oly stadium. They had competition until Saturday that there was NOT enough time to turn the venue over to Ceremonies for them to rehearse Closing...and then add to that the ending of the Marathon? Logistically, it would've been impossible. Had Athletics ended say, on Friday, maybe time would've allowed for both marathons to end in Oly Stadium? I can only think that it's TV scheduling that determined the dates of Athletics.

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My thoughts on the magic that was the Games of the Triple-X Olympiad (Part 01):

OPENING CEREMONY

I listened to BBC Radio 5's coverage of the OC before I saw it on NBC. Even the OC in its audio form, and done over a proxy server, was miles better than what I saw on NBC later that night. NBC Universal's coverage was at best mixed, and at worst offensive. I don't mind Bob Costas, but Matt Lauer needed to shut the (expletive) up and Meredith Vieira would have been better off back on The View. What NBC did show of the Opening Ceremony was absolutely gorgeous. I loved the opening number, and "And I Will Kiss" should win a Grammy next year. I adored the James Bond/Queen Elizabeth II/corgis short film, and even though the parachuting could have gone better, it was still great to see the Queen show a sense of humor. Two of the next three segments (the NHS/children's literature and the social media/music mash-up) were too frenetic for me, being an Aspie and all, but I did like them enough. And, unlike Meredith and Matt, I did know who Sir Tim Berners-Lee was. The Mr. Bean segment was absolutely hilarious.

When I saw the BBC's take on the OC, I had a much better time watching it. I was so offended that NBC edited out Emeli Sande's "Abide with Me" and the Amran Khan-choreographed dance piece that went along with it. Emeli sang the song beautifully, and Mia Michaels wishes that she could have choreographed a piece like Amran Khan did. NBC said that the piece would not be relevant to American viewers, which is a flying crock if you ask me. While it wasn't an official tribute to the 7/7 victims, interpreting it as such would be appropriate. Perhaps they didn't think that Emeli Sande was sexy enough or even "Adele" enough to merit a mention. Oh, and a fluff piece with the biggest whore in Hollywood history (Ryan Seacrest) interviewing the most prolific gold hoarder in Olympic history Michael (expletive) Phelps was? Sorry, but I've never jumped on the Michael Phelps train. And the less said about the guy who isn't fit to even tend Dick Clark's grave, the better.

While I have been used to the length of the Parade of Nations, it's always one of my favorite parts of the OC, if not my absolute favorite. I appreciated the fact that they made it a bit shorter, and the accompanying music was great. I got a chuckle watching the Fijians march out just as "Stayin' Alive" by the Bee Gees. It's right up there with Slovakia marching out to "YMCA" and Mongolia marching out to "Video Killed the Radio Star" at Torino 2006. I was disappointed that they didn't throw in at least one Stock Aitken Waterman track during the whole show. No "Never Gonna Give You Up" by Rick Astley? If any event merited a RickRoll, it was the Opening Ceremony. No "Toy Boy" by Sinitta? No "You Spin Me 'Round (Like a Record)" by Dead or Alive? Oh, and the commentary of Hazel Irvine, Huw Edwards, and that other guy puts that of Bob, Matt, and Meredith in the shade.

Some may disagree, but I feel that Measha Brueggergosman's performance of the Olympic hymn in Vancouver was the hymn at its greatest. Which is why I felt disappointed that the London version was a glorified trumpet solo. I thought that having Muhammad Ali there was poignant but somewhat exploitative, because he was clearly not capable of touching the Olympic flag, even with his wife at his side. It might as well have been "Weekend at Bernie's".

I actually thought that the cauldron lighting was beautiful and well-done. The cauldron made sense to me: 204 countries and territories and 1 team made up of independent Olympic athletes, each with its own flame, coming together to form one giant flame. And I appreciated the fact that seven up-and-coming athletes were chosen to light the cauldron, and each were sponsored by an Olympic veteran. I also liked that, after the Games were in the books, each team would take their part of the cauldron back home with them as a tangible piece of sporting history.

Finally, I've never been a Beatles fan, and it always seems like being a Beatles fan is mandatory. I did enjoy Sir Paul McCartney's closing performance, and found it a nice way to round off a great evening.

My grade for the Opening Ceremony: A+. NBC's coverage of the ceremony: FAIL. I couldn't even give it an F. That's how bad it was.

In my next post in this thread, I'll talk about the sports themselves.

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@plusbrilliansexploits - what a fascinating post. I enjoyed reading your thought and have to say that I agreed with pretty much everything you said. Spot on.

Thank you! I did forget to mention one sportsman who impressed me during the Games: David Rudisha - an example in humility even after winning the 800 metres in world record time.

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The Parade of Nations (and I think this is controversially discussed every four years): Way too long. Yes, I recognize that the world is a different place from 1988 or the last Olympics in Germany, in 1972. But surely, there must be ways to cut down on the length. One idea might be to restrict participation to athletes only, rather than including officials as well.

Well, according to what I read here on this board a few days before the opening ceremony, they did restrict the parade to athletes mainly and cut down the number of participating officials. However, I haven't found an news article confirming this so far. Furthermore, they accelerated the parade by playing their music with 120 beats per minute. And I think that was pretty effective - the parade appeared much less lengthy than usual.

But your post is a great summary of the Games - and I have to second the compliments about your English skills. You sound like a native speaker - and you said that you can relate to the history and culture shown in the opening ceremony. So do you have English roots?

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I wondered about that, too. I think it had to do with the poor scheduling of Athletics at Oly stadium. They had competition until Saturday that there was NOT enough time to turn the venue over to Ceremonies for them to rehearse Closing...and then add to that the ending of the Marathon? Logistically, it would've been impossible. Had Athletics ended say, on Friday, maybe time would've allowed for both marathons to end in Oly Stadium? I can only think that it's TV scheduling that determined the dates of Athletics.

Well, the competition in athletics (apart from the men's marathon) always ends on Saturday, the day before the closing ceremony. Beijing somehow managed to prepare the closing ceremony and stage the marathon final at the stadium, just like Sydney and all previous Olympic hosts. But: Beijing's closing ceremony was a lot less lavish props- and stage-wise than London's closing. Sydney didn't even cover their track for the closing ceremony, so they could stage the marathon final easily.

One thing is certain: Those are problems Rio won't face -- at least not to that extent. The football final will probably take place at Maracana (as usual) on Saturday morning, so they'll have almost one-and-a-half days left to prepare their closing ceremony. It's interesting, though, that despite having two separate stadiums for ceremonies and athletics, they'll still stage the marathon final at a third venue, the Sambadromo.

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Thanks for that well written and lucid summary, Plusbrilliantsexploits. Intriguing name by the way!

By the way, I'd like to compliment you on the excellence of your English. Couldn't spot a single grammatical error and it was all so beautifully worded and phrased. Did you grow up bilingual or did you just learn it at school/college etc.? Either way, I'm very impressed (although I find the level of English shown by nearly all the German posters on here to be generally very impressive). :)

Thank you for your kind words. Concerning my nickname: I was a big fan of the Winter Games in Vancouver, whose French motto was "des plus brilliants exploits". Since I'm a Francophile, it seemed like quite an appropriate name to select.

Yes, indeed - I had the good fortune and privilege of growing up in a multilingual family environment. English, German and Hindi are amongst my native languages. Absolutely, the level of English amongst my fellow Germans here in the forum is quite impressive!

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