In 10 years we will look back and see them as the top-of-the-market for large international sporting events. At $38bn and counting, the Beijing Olympics will cost 3 times what was spent in Athens. And the Greeks are still paying for that shindig, with most of the longer-term economic benefits having failed to materialise.
With hindsight I suspect many Chinese regret having won the Olympics in the first place. London beware...
The spotlight has shown us China at its best and at its worst, with plenty more grief to come. A side effect of globalisation in this decade has been the globalisation of protest. Any event with media attention is a target: WTO, Davos, Olympics, you name it. Countries will start thinking twice about volunteering to attract so much cost, hassle and media spotlight. I think we're seeing the beginning of the end of large, international events.
What's going to happen in the next few weeks? Let's see.
The Chinese have already arrested 82 "suspected terrorists" for plotting on the games (and executed 2). OK, maybe. They all happened to be in Xinjiang, which has a large Muslim population wary of central Han Chinese influence.
Millions of visitors are streaming into China, and undoubtedly many are thinking up ways to trick the authorities with a little protest -- by wearing a pro-Tibet T-shirt, or perhaps laying a flower at Tienanmen. The heavy hand of China's security services will be closely scrutinised as it deals with these small transgressions.
China is already swarming with Western journalists looking for a story that will embarrass the hosts. There is no shortage of material: desolate parents seeking justice for children buried in their schools in the recent earthquake; millions of people jobless without pay as their factories were forced to shut down to clear the air ahead of the Games; the eerie quiet that has settled over Tibet; etc.
It's going to be interesting, that's for sure...