London 2012 has “absolutely refreshed” the Olympics with “absolutely fabulous” Games, International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Jacques Rogge said on the closing day on Sunday.
Mr. Rogge heaped praise on organizing committee chief Sebastian Coe, the huge turnout by the fans who filled the stadiums, and the friendly volunteers hours before his eagerly awaited final assessment of the Games at the closing ceremony.
Unlike his predecessor Juan Antonio Samaranch, Mr. Rogge is not using the phrase “the best ever” but a special phrase unique for each edition because considers a direct comparison “unfair.” “London has absolutely refreshed the Games in many aspects ...
Sebastian has delivered on the athletes. I promised the athletes it would be an athletes’ Games and, as I said in my introduction, it has been the athletes’ Games,” Mr. Rogge said.
“I think the Games were absolutely fabulous but here and there are issues where we can tell the Brazilians (Rio 2016) and say, ‘Be careful of this, be careful of that.’ Nothing fundamental, of course.” But Mr. Rogge also said that Rio is yet to come up with exact figures for the Olympic budget and said that good results of the nation’s athletes will also be important to make the first Games in South America a success -- just as Team GB sent the whole of Britain into an Olympic frenzy.
“We had to wait two days and the first bronze came in the bicycle race for women, but from then on you could not follow the pace any more. It accelerated, and you are over 60 now -- so this is fantastic and very much needed.
“We are saying exactly the same to our Brazilian friends and they are preparing their teams. Definitely it is also going to be very important,” Mr. Rogge said.
Looking at the competition in 26 sports for 302 gold medals, the president singled out “the tears of Chris Hoy ... (as) the defining moment of the Games” in reference to the British cyclist’s emotions after getting a national record sixth gold.
Rogge singled out other stars such as super sprinter Usain Bolt, all-time best medallist swimmer Michael Phelps and sailor Ben Ainslie and named the Games a “dream for a sports lover like me.” Mr. Rogge has been critical of the global icon Bolt, who became a self-proclaimed “legend” with an unprecedented sprint treble repeat, but settled this issue in his diplomatic way.
“Let me finalise this issue as follows. To say that Usain Bolt is an active performance legend, he is an icon, he is the best sprinter of all time, I think that is a good qualification,” he said.
However, a “magic moment” for Rogge belonged to David Rudisha, who won the 800m in one of 44 world records achieved during the Games, naming the Kenyan’s “magic stride ... beauty in action.” Coe had a different magic moment, singling out those who roared the athletes to new heights across the venues.
“For me, the British people,” he said. “The British people, day after day, have filled our stadiums and turned them into theatres of sport. There have been 26 sports where that has happened and that, for me, has been, in a way, the defining part.”