Brand GB – a good games

The Olympic Cauldron burns in front of the Union Jack and Olympic flag

Ask foreigners to describe Britain and they will often reflect on a people obsessed with their past and resigned to their fate. We have a reputation for reserved introspection.

The Diamond Jubilee presented a familiar British face to a watching world - street parties and formal ceremonial held, as might be seen as traditional, in the rain.

It was "red and gilt Britain", as one US journalist based here described it to me. And we are very good at it.

The expectation was that the Olympics would be conducted within the same colour palette. A London games, it was widely assumed, would resound to the echoes of past glories - a retrospective of an ancient island people.

But almost from the moment the clang of a giant golden bell announced the opening ceremony, it was clear that stereotypes were being challenged. The history was there. So was the Queen. But the tone was optimistic and self-deprecating - a portrait of a country aware of its shortcomings but surprisingly confident about its future.

And the games began - draped in dazzling pink and purple, orange and poppy-red. It was an audacious statement. London 2012 would be determinedly contemporary.

Olympics coverage online

Olympics images

For a moment the country held its breath. We had been warned to expect travel chaos, security meltdown and organisational incompetence. When a coach driver got lost bringing athletes to the Olympic Park, it seemed as though Britain was lining up for at least a bronze in bungling.

But it didn't happen. In fact, the teams of pandemonium correspondents assigned around the capital were forced to kick their heels or quickly develop an understanding of the finer points of dressage and rhythmic gymnastics.

Let's be clear. Putting on an Olympics is a massively complex task - what is known in the jargon as a "mega-project". It requires collaboration and planning on a breath-taking scale. And just one oversight or error has the capacity to destroy a host city's reputation and damage a country's image.

What we have seen over the past fortnight is an amazing success story. Far from exposing mediocrity and incompetence, the games have challenged lazy assumptions about what kind of country we are - not just to foreigners but to ourselves.

Each time we look at the medal table, we are encouraged to believe that we still have the capacity to punch above our weight in the world. Each time the TV cameras swoop over the smiling crowds in the Olympic venues, we are reminded that we can match anyone when it comes to putting on a show.

There is a danger of becoming giddy, like a love-struck teenager who assumes too much from a fortnight of summer adventure. The sugar-rush of sweet success is likely to be swiftly followed by the sickener of remembering just what economic and social challenges lie ahead for this country.

But let's not forget what some people predicted would happen: an embarrassing and chaotic two weeks during which all the flaws of our declining nation would be exposed.

Brand GB would have been horribly undermined and this country's reputation and prospects damaged for decades.

As it is, we have presented ourselves as competent, successful, confident and fun. To paraphrase Brucie - it's been a good games, my love, good games.

Mark Easton Article written by Mark Easton Mark Easton Home editor

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  • rate this

    Comment number 34.

    We are a wonderful island nation made up of all the peoples of the world. Took my son to Bletchley Park yesterday. this country should be so proud of it's Science, Maths, Theatre, BBC free press, Sports and weather the whole lot. Well dome 2012 you have brought a nation together to celebrate just how Great Britain is. Thanks BBC great show

  • rate this

    Comment number 33.

    Lets face it the BBC sports Editor spent the weeks leading up to the games high lighting how much transport chaos there was going to be, typically BBC

  • rate this

    Comment number 32.

    It was one of the best Olympics ever!!! ;)

    After everything Britain has been through in WWII-
    you guys took a stand against the Nazis+would not give up
    even after being bombed nonstop (only you would hold out)
    I'm glad to see your success in this modern day

    You guys deserve it

    Thank you for what you did in WWII

    From a random American

  • rate this

    Comment number 31.


    1. The forced jollity of the jubilee that turned into a damp squib, mainly because people are cottoning on to the fact that 'royalty' is just a pantomine front for parasite banks.

    2. The genuine admiration and passion shown towards the athletes who really do work hard.

    We are starting to grow up more and more as we become educated to the fact that we are all 'sovereign'.

  • rate this

    Comment number 30.

    Relief... So far so good.. Performance is well above anyone's expectations.. No major incidents..
    However we are still in the grips of a double dip recession with an incompetent administration causing misery to millions. GB has always punched above its weight and been proud of its achievements and if there is any change in mindset it could be posh boys Dave & Nick who get the wooden spoon!

  • rate this

    Comment number 29.

    The british press and TV with there usual pesimistic and negative view of everything must have hated the last two weeks having to report good news.
    In the next month expect a backlash of the most negative news reporting ever as they try and make up for it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 28.

    It is not the games, it is the fact that with current technology we are better aware of how people live all over the world.

  • rate this

    Comment number 27.

    Yes, Mitt Romney put that in your pipe and smoke it! Not ready my a**!

  • rate this

    Comment number 26.


    I think they should just stick to athletics, lol

  • rate this

    Comment number 25.

    Well they looked like a bunch of chavs when they came into the stadium in the closing ceremony... but by god some talent was shown! Well done to the whole team. Unfortunately i suspect that the politicians will not be able to show such adeptness and skill in managing the legacy!

  • rate this

    Comment number 24.

    Pride comes before a fall. Anyone seen the economic stats?

  • rate this

    Comment number 23.

    Team GB's greastest games ever!

  • rate this

    Comment number 22.

    We now have a whole new team to hold up as role models for the young. Why do we bother with the inflated ego's of the Premiership?

  • rate this

    Comment number 21.

  • rate this

    Comment number 20.

    Am I the only one who shudders at the word 'brand'. Why do some people feel the need to see an object, person, team or nation as some corporate logo or 'lifestyle choice'. I find it insidious that such woefully banal exec-speak has entered into everday chatter. A brand is something that is sold and when sport, artistry or people in general are sold it makes me shiver.

  • rate this

    Comment number 19.

    Later, after the paralympics, I'll be interested to hear Lord Coe's explanation of how the typically hypernegative British media were turned into turtle doves for 4 weeks. A cunning plan? Or were the news-editors too busy looking at all those muscles?

  • rate this

    Comment number 18.

    At the start there were countless armchair critics, nay-sayers and media types who relished in predicting a disaster before even giving it a chance, which I guess is a typical British attitude.

    But they've now all been proven wrong. It's been successful, Team GB have done staggeringly well and its lifted the nation's spirits. It's been a reminder of just how great we can be.

  • rate this

    Comment number 17.

    The Olympics have certainly generated a huge amount of hype, but why should we believe that their long term legacy will be any better than the majority of the previous Games?

  • rate this

    Comment number 16.

    Said before the start that if Team GB came close to the 19 golds in the last Olympics, and finished in the top ten, then we could all be pleased with the performance

    But who could honestly put their hand on their heart and say they would do so magnificently? - Except the "experts" who (as always) simply took a guess

    Well done to the whole team

  • rate this

    Comment number 15.

    Spin, Spin, Spin...

    Yes we had a great Olympics, but dont get fooled by the sales pitch. Any salesman will tell you that you emphasise the positive and down-play the negative. For example, where are the seven cameroon atheletes that have magically disappeared ? How many more are going to do a bunk before its time to go home ?


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