Good Will games

15.07.28: WHEN KING WILLIAM officially opened the Games of the XXXIV Olympiad at the London Olympic Stadium in Stevenage, he became a living symbol of English sporting history.

The last time London hosted the Olympics was in 1948, the year of his father's birth. "For me," he said, "the games in this country have always represented something more than just competition." The president of the organising committee, Sebastian Coe, Member of the Upper House of Parliament, joined him in applauding the Happy Games, as everyone is calling them, for their reaffirmation of "sport on a human scale".

Many people are pleased to see the Olympics return to somewhere a little closer to their roots. The 2028 games will be the smallest since Sydney in 2004, with the number of competitors limited to 10,000, representing 200 countries in 28 sports, and with commercial sponsorships limited to the top 30 global corporations.

"We want Olympic records to be set," said Coe, "not corporate balance sheets."

Track times are sure to be broken by a generation of athletes who are the first to benefit from genetically engineered "smart" hormones. These replaced the dangerous (and illegal) body-building steroids that Coe condemned in the late 20th century. His world record for the 800m, 1min 41.3sec, stood for 16 years and was regarded as one of the greatest athletic performances of all time; now it is beaten by schoolgirls.

The Olympic village, which has been designed to accommodate 16,000 athletes and officials, completes the final link in London's outer urban chain. After the games it will become one of Europe's most modern community housing projects, self-powered by photovoltaics and with the lowest pollution index of any high-density development in an industrialised country. RG