Editorial: Olympic dream or nightmare?

The controversial 2008 Beijing Olympics are about to kick off at last. China's first-ever Games have been dogged by their fair share of trials - from logistical and construction headaches to health concerns over the city's air pollution, via the troubled progress of the Olympic Torch. But now that we've reached the real point of the whole caboodle - a two-week showcase of the absolute peak of sporting endeavour - hopefully that's all in the past. Here at MT we're looking forward to watching some epic track-and-field battles on the telly, and maybe a few gold medals for Team GB. Good luck to all.

by Andrew Saunders, MT deputy editor
Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013

But as this month's cover star and MT Interviewee Lord Coe knows only too well, the Chinese are not alone in having had major controversy ahead of staging their Olympics. Human rights and exhaust emissions may be lower down the London 2012 organiser's to-do list, but the vexed question of budget most certainly is not.

Making a business case for the Games is never easy, but as the predicted cost of the first UK Olympics since 1948 has already quadrupled, with four years still to go, it's become nigh-on impossible. The credit crunch is putting the brakes on the search for sponsorship revenue, and lesser mortals might be considering their options. But Coe - who famously declared that 'stress is entirely self-inflicted' - is made of sterner stuff. Not only is his energy contagious and his vision for the future of sport in the UK compelling, but he can also still run 400m in 54 seconds dead. Not bad for a guy of 51, even if he has got two Olympic gold medals on the mantelpiece at home.

Sporting spectaculars have a knock-on effect in all kinds of business. At Biggin Hill airport - increasingly the London base of choice for the private-jet crowd - trade is brisker around big-match/race/game weekends. I spent a day there for our business travel special this month, seeing how the other half lives. Even first-class airline flying is a very pale comparison; at Biggin there are no queues for anything at all, and the average time between arriving at the airport and boarding the plane is an astounding five minutes. Ryanair it ain't...

Back on the ground, currently holidaying editor Gwyther adopts tropical garb - and an armed escort - for a visit to strife-torn Sri Lanka, where the continuing civil war hasn't stopped preparations for the economic upswing that eventual peace promises. He also meets a reformed Tamil Tiger with a taste in shirts almost as loud as his own. You have been warned...

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