Of course I know all the arguments about the cost, the human rights issues, the corporatism, the exploitation of athletic achievement for chauvinistic purposes. But there’s still something about the Olympics that shines through it all and when that gorgeous torch went out in the Beijing sky an hour or so ago, I felt more than a tinge of emotion about the whole affair.
I think, on balance, it was right that the Olympics went to China. I think it was right, too, that there were widespread protests, most notably as the Olympic flame made its way around the world from Greece to Beijing. I think that both the presence of the Games in China and the protests against them can only help the cause of liberalisation and democracy there.
Am I trying to have my sporting and political cake and eat it too? I don’t believe so.
There are few sporting, cultural or other events of any description, even in our globalised world, in which a commitment to contact, communication and friendship between nations is raised so high – and none in which it reaches so many people. When it happens, it’s worth cherishing, for all the flaws.
And the opportunity to see human beings performing at the very peak of physical achievement is a thing of absolute beauty. We may not be gods, but as a celebration of life it's right up there with invention, music, poetry, drama and the very best of human endeavour. Roll on London 2012.