Sydney, Aug 11 : Australia's most prolific world record breaker, former Olympian and Gold Coast mayor Ron Clarke, has criticised the Beijing Olympic opening ceremony for being "too robotic" and extravagant.
One of the world's most accomplished long distance runners, Clarke has attended 20 Olympic opening ceremonies since 1956. He said Beijing Olympics opening ceremony was spectacular, but lacked soul.
"It was an epic Ben Hur production but it was just so precise, military precise, and as an Australian I like thing to be more spontaneous," Clarke said.
"After the build up I was a bit disappointed. It lacked heart and soul and was a bit too robotic. I think opening ceremonies have become too expensive. I think the simple ceremonies of the old days, like Melbourne in 1956, were much more sincere and much more in keeping with what the Games are really about," he added.
Clarke called for the International Olympic Committee to put a cap on how much money host nations could spend on the opening and closing ceremonies and urged the savings to be put into endeavours that would have a lasting impact.
"The Olympics is about participation. The money spent on such extravagant ceremonies could be used to support countries that can't afford to send athletes to the Games," Clarke said.
Clarke had the honour of lighting the Olympic cauldron at the Melbourne Games.
However he said the tradition had become a gimmick, with host nations attempting to come up with new ways to light the torch.
Clarke said the opening ceremonies in Moscow and Sydney remained the best he had seen.
Due to his commitment as Gold Coast mayor, Clarke is unable to attend the Beijing Games, making it only the second Olympics he has missed alongside Athens.
Story first published: Monday, August 11, 2008, 18:30 [IST]
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