No one else could have done it with such aplomb. Boris Johnson’s performance as major of the new host city at the closing ceremony of Beijing 2008 was second to none.
- A stadium full of the world – everyone dressed to the nines or looking immaculate or both. But Boris – well he looked scruffy, even in a suit.
- And then there was the stage-managed procession with Beijing’s mayor – but Boris seemed in a bit of a rush, and so bounded up the dais steps two at a time and got there first. Perhaps he’d forgotten that this was the only Olympic race whose result had already been decided – it was definitely London’s for the taking. But perhaps we should give him a gold medal anyway, for effort.
- Then the question of the flag-waving itself. Boris had claimed he’d been practising for his big moment for weeks. Fortunately, he was not the only one who found it quite tricky. Having been handed a half-unfurled Olympic flag by a PRC soldier (who’ll probably be court-martialled for his efforts) the Beijing mayor struggled – as did IOC president Jacques Rogge. But Boris manfully manged to unfurl his banner – and London could breathe a sigh of jubilant relief. Their mayor had not dropped it nor speared someone with it. His rehearsals come into their own.
All in all, it made me feel proud to be a Brit and a Londoner (in contrast, i should say, to the sight of aging rock stars and footballers on top of a fake London bus). Roll on 2012.