by Ray Fleming

David Cameron was right to be in his most positive mood yesterday when speaking on the eve of the Opening of the London Olympics. Perhaps he was stung into that mood by the inappropriate and untimely questioning of the Games' prospects by Mitt Romney, who will contest the US presidency with Barack Obama in November. The prime minister praised the Olympic Park itself, created from nothing in seven years, pointed to the great success of the Torch relay in involving the whole country in the event and also to the enthusiasm of the thousands of volunteers who will help to keep the show running smoothly.

Whether the prime minister is right to link the Olympics with investment in Britain is another matter. A major global investment conference is running in parallel with the Olympics in London and Mr Cameron is using it to promote Britain as a “huge opportunity”. Unfortunately, Wednesday's gloomy recession data worked against his pitch but he remained optimistic and confident, placing emphasis on the qualities of the British people and on the Olympics as a “people-led Games, compared to, say, Beijing. While that is fair enough, there is reason to think that these Olympics, more than any other, are also commerce-led in character. If that proves to be so, it will be a big and probably irrecoverable step backwards for the Olympic spirit itself.


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