ONE of the surprising -- and admirable -- things about the London Olympics has been the inconspicuousness of those responsible for the multiple aspects of this massive sporting, media, public and administrative undertaking.
We know very little about the people who have delivered this complex event so efficiently. Hidden behind the unlovely acronym of Locog some exceptional but little-known talents have been at work to deliver a Games of which Britain could be proud. The chairman of Locog, Lord Seb Coe, has been a recognisable and respected figure but even he has resisted any temptation to seek non-essential publicity.
In thinking of figures behind the scenes it is perhaps appropriate to recall Sir John Major, Conservative prime minister from 1992-97, who made two significant innovations that helped to prepare the ground for what we have been seeing over the past two weeks. By creating the National Lottery and ensuring that a substantial part of its proceeds would be earmarked for sporting activities, especially in schools, he provided a flow of money that had never existed before. And by establishing a Department for The National Heritage (now of Culture, Media and Sport) he gave sport a status in government which it had previously lacked. By 2005 the London Bid team in Singapore could make its case to the Olympic authorities confident of the support that existed at home.