The Beijing Olympics' closing ceremony was predictably stupendous, with thousands of acrobats and "more orthodontically screened children," writes Guardian columnist Marina Hyde. It certainly ran over the 8-minute tableau promoting the 2012 Games in London. While China spent years preparing its "deliciously understated 16-day world domination infomercial," the Brits decided on a low-budget showcase that featured rain-soaked commuters waiting for a bus.
Even after trotting out a bus-riding David Beckham for a free kick, London couldn't upstage Beijing's follow-up—hundreds of contortionists on a huge steel tower. Still, writes Hyde, there's national pride to be found somewhere in the unpolished presentation—London's shambolic mayor Boris Johnson might have bungled the flag-waving ceremony, but "at least Londoners can vote."