london olympics 2012
The roar of the crowd as the British contingent entered the track on Wednesday sent shivers down my spine. Eighty thousand people erupted as the athletes wove their way through the brightly colored dancers, showered in camera flashes and always under the watchful eye of Queen Elizabeth II.
Cultural diplomacy is not about whose army wins any more, said professor Joseph Nye of Harvard University to Will Gompertz on the Today programme this morning; it's whose story wins. He calls it "soft power" – the influence of information technology is now a powerful weapon of mass empathy.
The UK Culture Minister Ed Vaizey was speaking to delegates from nearly 40 countries yesterday who had gathered in Edinburgh for the world’s first International Cultural Summit. Praising the work done at London 2012, he said the spectacular opening and closing ceremonies “told the world about the importance of creativity”.
In this day and age, when Britain sometimes struggles to justify its status as a permernant member of the United Nations Security Council or as a "major player on the world stage", the medal table may prove to be a more accurate measure of the international standing than the size, for example, of the GDP or the armed forces.
The first weekend in August proved to be one huge celebration for the Caribbean country of Jamaica. While the success of Usain Bolt, Yohan Blake and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce at the 2012 Olympic Games might have garnered most of the attention, the country was already firmly in the process of celebrating a rather more important milestone: fifty years of Jamaican independence.
In a week of ultra sporting competition between different nations, 12 of the world's greatest cities came together in a slightly different spirit to look at how they fared in the field of culture. Following a year of intensive research, the Mayor's Office launched the World Cities Culture Report 2012 at an international summit of city government and arts leaders.
Studying the Olympics should be a required experience for anyone running for or serving in public office. Maybe then they could get over the persistent, uncompromising ego that figures so large in politics, and end up working for the common good.