The 2008 Beijing Olympics
on the BBC
BBC Radio team Olympic impressions
Simon Mayo presents his own show on BBC
Radio 5 Live weekdays from 1.00 to 4.00pm –
a mix of topical debate, news and interviews
for which he recently won Speech
Broadcaster of the Year at the 2008 Sony
Inducted into the Radio
Academy Hall of Fame in December 2006,
Simon is one of the country's most
Prior to joining 5 Live, he spent 15 years at
BBC Radio 1, including being one of their most
successful presenters of the flagship Breakfast
Show, for which he won a Sony Award for
National DJ of the Year in 1991.
Simon has also presented various shows for
television including Top Of The Pops.
"For me the Olympics represents the best
and the worst of sporting endeavour, so we
will have lots of fantastic, inspirational stories
of incredible records and heroic sporting
achievement which will inspire people and
then there'll be the questionable stories
about how it was achieved and human rights
records of governments involved.
enormous mish-mash of conflicting stories –
so there'll be the wonderfully heroic and the
questionable, all tied up.
"As far as my own Olympic memories go, the
only other Games I've been to was Barcelona
"We were doing some programmes
for BBC Radio 1 from there and we were
stationed just outside the athletes' village.
were on at Breakfast so what we had were all
the interviews we didn't expect to get, from
athletes who had finished their events and who
were traipsing back into camp at seven o'clock
in the morning, having had the wildest party of
their life – because they'd been training for
four years and thought they'd go to town!
"So there was that, plus seeing Sally Gunnell
winning her gold medal in the 400m hurdles.
"With regard to Beijing 2008, I have
absolutely no idea what to expect.
says it's going to be a completely different
Olympic experience to anything that's
happened before, that Beijing is a different
city to anything that anyone will have
experienced before …
"I'm sure when you're
in a stadium watching sport, you could be
anywhere – Sydney, London, Paris or Beijing.
"But I genuinely don't know what to expect.
The athletics is almost the most predictable
part of it – it's everything around it that I
think is going to be the fascinating story.
"I think the significance of the Games being
held in Beijing will only become apparent
during and after the Games.
expected the carrying of the torch to
become such a controversial event as it did,
and that was just the torch – so I think we
won't know the significance until we see how
the politics plays out, whether any athletes
take the opportunity to make a political
gesture or send a political message.
of the thousands of protests which happen
every year in China anyway, but don't get
reported over here, manifest themselves
during the Olympics and how will the
Chinese react if so?
"Whether they improve their human rights
record and whether they become more
open – all of that is yet to be decided.
"As far as the actual sport goes, it's hard to
move too far away from the blue riband
events that everyone is looking forward to –
the athletics is where a lot of the attention will
be, the 100m, 400m, 1500m, the marathon;
these are always the most extraordinary
theatrical occasions even if that is not where
we're going to get any of our success,
"But I think the key big events are
always the ones that are the most exciting.
"Looking at British chances, I'll go along with
that established wisdom that we'll probably
do best in the sitting-down sports!
the things I'm doing is the equestrian stuff, so
that plus the sailing, the rowing, the cycling
are the ones where we'll win our medals.
don't think it will be a classic track and field
year for Team GB, though it would be
fantastic to be surprised.
"I think what will be
different is that everyone will be seeing
Beijing through a prism of London 2012,
so if someone comes fourth or fifth and
they're under 30, we'll be saying, well,
maybe next time...
"And talking of London 2012, if you take
Lord Coe and his team at their word, that it
will be a great Games brought in within the
budget parameters they've said, it should be
fantastic for London.
"A lot of money spent
here, a lot of money on the transport system
and redevelopment … the only thing you can
say for certain is that it's a fantastic
opportunity to showcase London as one of
the greatest – if not THE greatest – cities in