- Graham Morrison
Aug 8, 2008
Beijing is my fourth Olympics and it hardly seems four years since I was in Athens for 2004 Games. That might be because the process of getting here has been so time consuming. The accreditation process takes two years and all categories of accreditation are oversubscribed.
The forms go back with supporting evidence and six months on you get an answer. My accreditation type is ‘E' meaning written press for all competition venues. Then there is a timetable for booking a hotel via the organisers, and a flight. Paying for the hotel was an adventure in itself. I had to turn up at the Bank of China in Cannon Street with the cash. And after more form-filling, my precious piece of plastic arrived... an all-in-one accreditation and entry visa. I'd better not lose it!
The flight to Beijing would have been fine had it not been for the typhoon, which caused cancellations from Hong Kong and a seven-hour delay for the connecting flight. Hong Kong International airport might be efficient and state-of-the-art ultimately a departure lounge is a departure lounge. At least my baggage arrived with me. Checked into the hotel at 3.30am and and slept through breakfast.
- Graham Morrison
Aug 5, 2008
'One World One Dream'. Well that's the slogan for the Beijing Olympic and Paralympic Games, which officially open on Friday August 8. You wouldn't think it though judging by many of the stories in circulation. Human rights, pollution and so on. But hold on, haven't we've heard all this before? Well, yes actually.
The Olympic Games is no stranger to controversy; Moscow suffered a boycott, Los Angeles was going to have unclean air, pollution was said to be one reason why Athens failed to secure the 2000 Games, Athens was almost not built on time for 2004, and so on. While athletes were being urged to stay away from Moscow British companies were busy signing trade deals just as Britain now has significant trade relations with China. Go back further and you'll find more. But then the curtain goes up and the moans of multifarious protesters are drowned out in the euphoria that always engulfs this quadrennial spectacle of international sport.
And in any case, as Seb Coe suggested on TV on Sunday, you ask an athlete to give half their life to their sport then tell them "Sorry, it's off!" Don't think so. It is not as if there is another Wimbledon next year, another F1 race next week. It is four years and their chance might have gone forever. Also, the Olympics is the one chance many smaller sports have of appearing on the world stage in front of millions of people and gaining much needed publicity - important for a healthy and varied choice of sport.