As 2012 Olympics begin, Nick Hornby reflects the on the differences between 2012 and 1948 in the host country and the national malaise felt by many in the UK in a piece called My Utter Lack of Olympic Spirit:
We're a healthier and more prosperous nation than we were in 1948, and we are likely to come in fourth in the 2012 medals table, with only the U.S., China and Russia ahead of us. In 1948 we came in 12th, behind Finland and Switzerland and the Netherlands, despite hosting the Games, and despite the absence of several countries who hadn't been invited. (The official reason for the absence of Germany and Japan was that nobody could find a mailing address for them.) And these medals will be celebrated with enthusiasm and pride by a nation desperate for any kind of light in a bleak year. It's what happens afterward that worries us.
From this distance, at least, it's possible to imagine that the 1948 Games felt like the beginning of something—a new country, a new Europe, a new era of peace and prosperity. We may not have won much, but we didn't care. In 2012, the medals matter. We don't want this party to end.
Every party must come to end at some point. And the hangover from this one will likley be a doozy.