It was with a heavy heart that I left London to fly home to Brazil last Tuesday. My idea had been to soak up some of the Olympics and then be back in Rio for the moment when my adopted city formally takes on the mission of staging the next Games. It is a sound plan.
But it meant skipping out on the party when it was still bubbling.
I am not really an Olympics person. My sporting focus is largely restricted to football – there's an old love of cricket, as well, but 18 years in Brazil has left me hopelessly out of touch.
In the normal run of things I don't have much, if any interest in many of the sports that make up the Games.
But you can be as indifferent or cynical as you like. When it rolls to town, the sheer scale of the Olympics is dazzling. All these activities that humans get up to, and dedicate years of their lives to reach a breathtaking standard.
As well as the age old fundamental questions – who is the fastest man in the world, who can jump the highest or throw the furthest, and so on – the heart of the Olympics is its diversity. And for this reason contemporary London is the perfect setting.
For the duration of the Games the most global city in the world becomes even more global.
I would even – though not even half seriously – suggest the following; the World Cup should be staged in Mexico every four years, and the Olympics should stay in London. The fit works. Inserted into the context of multicultural 21st century London, the Games have a power of event that is truly outstanding.
I have been dwelling all day on this question of the power of the live event. The symbol of the London Games that I take from my own experience comes from the women's football match between Great Britain and Brazil, which drew an exceptional crowd of over 70,000 to Wembley.
Sitting – and in her case mostly standing – behind me was a girl of probably seven or eight who had been taken along by her father, almost certainly to her first football match. She was enraptured by the whole occasion. As dad patiently explained what was going on, she clearly did not want the night to end. He was angling for an early exit to beat the final whistle rush. She was having none of it. She was going to stay right to the end.
The power of the live event had clearly made a huge impression on her. I imagined her afterwards, arriving home tired but inspired, dreaming that night of scoring the winning goal in a big game.
On my first day back in Rio I went along to a game in the Brazilian championship, Botafogo against Palmeiras in the Engenhao Stadium, the rather unimpressive arena that, incidentally, will play host to the athletics at the 2016 Olympic Games.
It felt strange, almost an act of treason, to be going to a sporting event that had nothing to do with the Olympics. But then Rio is hardly gripped by Olympics fever.
Indeed, one of the main benefits of staging the Games will be the effect of diversifying Brazil's sporting base. Despite lavish state funding for Olympic sports, it is hard for anything to break through the domination exerted by football.
Volleyball has certainly done so, the success of the national team (both sexes, but especially the men) giving the sport a higher profile. Brazil's performances on track and field, though, remain extremely disappointing.
Perhaps watching the best in the world in the Engenhao Stadium in 2016 will inspire some of the locals to go on and do even better.
There were not many people in the ground to be inspired by the meeting of Botafogo and Palmeiras. Just 3,550 paid to watch, despite the undoubted attraction of Clarence Seedorf in the black and white stripes of the home side.
A month earlier I had been at the stadium when nearly 17,000 saw Seedorf stepping out of a helicopter to be presented to the crowd.
Botafogo's first league games had been attracting under 5,000 – the mere presence of the Dutch master in the stadium tripled the gate.
In my absence he had made his debut in front of a full house of some 35,000. Since then results have not been disappointing, and neither have Seedorf's performances – at 36, he remains a class act, technically sound and mentally sharp.
But already, in the space of a couple of weeks, the power of event has dissipated as far as Botafogo fans are concerned and crowds have fallen back to their pre-Seedorf level.
Club football, of course, does not have that same 'once in a lifetime' appeal of the Olympic Games. The majority of those filling the stadiums in London would not be back if the tae kwondo or the rhythmic gymnastics, for example, were repeated every fortnight.
The appeal of following a club through the rigours of a long season lies in the feeling of being represented, something that football captures better than any other sport.
Alarm bells should be ringing in Brazil, where average crowds in the first division are lower than those in Major League Soccer.
There are plenty of discussion points – the time of the game (a 9:50pm kick off for TV purposes), the price of the tickets (too expensive despite Brazil's economic boom) and the unsatisfactory nature of a football stadium with a running track (the Engenhao was built for the 2007 Pan-American Games).
But something is wrong if the presence of a genuine great like Seedorf is not enough to draw a decent crowd.
There were more people in the stands in North Greenwich watching the dressage – proof that in Brazilian football the power of the event is falling well short of potential.
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