- 4 Aug 08, 08:37 AM
That was a good effort by Jacques Rogge at his first media conference of the Games.
There was a sense of irritation around the place, but (to push the metaphor deep into Alan Partridge territory) he applied the presidential calamine lotion.
After nearly a week of tetchy exchanges between the media and BOCOG about the imperfect internet access, Rogge kicked off his address with a carefully chosen remark about the Athletes' village, describing it as "the best ever".
That's quite a compliment from a man with 40 years' experience of the games, deliberately served up as a subtle reminder that the Olympics is about the athletes and their experience, not gripes from journalists about our working conditions.
When he did come on to the internet issue, he absolved the IOC of responsibility, saying there had emphatically never been a deal to permit some web restriction, talked up the role he'd played in getting some improvements, and signing off by saying the IOC was still working on it.
He wasn't due to appear before the media for another 24 hours, so his early show was also of significance. Officially, it was because the Executive Board had cracked through the agenda and finished in less than the scheduled two days - but in fact it allowed him to try to draw a line under the web woes that were threatening to dominate the headlines for another day.
He also did a neat job of re-focusing everyone on the achievements of the Chinese.
Before Athens, we were invited to recall, the issue was, could the hosts actually pull it off given all the delays and organisational concerns?
Here, said Rogge, there were no such issues, and he had complete confidence in the organisers. In just a few days, he urged, the magic of the Games would hold us in its thrall again.
A plague has hit Beijing. They're everywhere. I should've twigged when I saw the bats the other night. I thought they were looking cocky, and a bit over-fed.
Moths. Little light brown ones, a bit bigger than a thumbnail. I wondered what the slightly crunchy carpet was on the floor outside as I wandered back in the dark last night. Turns out it was all the dead ones.
They're flinging themselves at every streetlight, back-lit window, white surface. Walk through the grass, and a cloud of them will take to the air, not exactly of biblical proportions, but certainly a gospel's worth.
Out and about today, I watched two blokes with fishing nets trying in vain to clear out the water feature around the aquatic centre. Elsewhere, gangs with brooms are brushing them all up, clearing away the mothy debris from the sides of the pavements.
I've never seen so many, but now I think about it, for a couple of days in Sydney, we had a similar phenomenon. The Games happened during a period of major moth migration, and the blazing lights from Stadium Australia diverted swarms of them, much larger than their Chinese cousins. The sky was thick with them, then in a couple of days they'd moved on.
Perhaps they've got Olympic accreditation... or maybe they just like sport. They're not terribly acrobatic mind you, and the bats have certainly got their measure when it comes to the team pursuit.
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