A decade after Athens 2004 Olympics,many facilities in ruins

Daily Mirror publishes photos showing degradation

07 August, 16:56

    (by Patrizio Nissirio) (ANSAmed) - ROME, AUGUST 7 - International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Jacques Rogge once called the Athens 2004 Olympics ''unforgettable, dream games''. Held August 13-29, 2004, the Games were well organized, Greece's welcome was impeccable, and the visitors more than satisfied. Ten years later, many of the places in which the Games were held, however, seem more of a nightmare than a ''dream''. As a ten-year anniversary of the beginning of Athens 2004 approaches, the British Daily Mirror has published a photo gallery showing the state of abandonment and degradation that many stadiums, pools, and other sports facilities built for the Games are now in: partially destroyed, flooded, covered in graffiti, and with every removable object taken away. The image bears witness to - ten years after Athens 2004 and behind the facade of success of those 15 days - the lack of planning for the future. The waste is substantial, given the high cost (mostly due to delays) of about nine billion euros, which many say played a part in the economic crisis that has been devastating Greece since 2008. Greek Olympic Committee president Spyros Kapralos noted, however, that the budget deficit was at 360 billion euros - and that thus the cost of the Olympic Games came nowhere near having a large effect on it. The Daily Mirror images are ghastly: the beach volleyball stadium of Faliro, the public parts of the former Olympic Village, the site of the kayak and canoe races in Helleniko (the former Athens airport, where some of the former Olympic sites of the area have been sold), the softball and baseball field, and the Aquatic Center. All are empty, the facilities destroyed and filled with rubbish and graffiti, the pitches where the matches were held now desolate, weed-clogged wastelands. Many of the sites have been fenced off, locked and gated. Fortunately, not all the sites have been subjected to the same fate. The former Broadcast Ceneter is now a mall, and the badminton arena is a theater: little consolation for athletes, however, as the Olympic facilities were to have served Greek sports for generations. ''It was a waste of money and all for show. It cost a lot,'' said Dimitris Mardas, economics professor at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, who was the then-general secretary for trade.

    Unlike other host cities whose venues included prefabricated, collapsible structures, Athens opted for heavy buildings which ''only served the interests of contractors,'' Mardas said, quoted by daily Kathimerini.

    ''The [economic] crisis should have been the extra push, the pressure to capitalize on the Olympic legacy," said Stratos Safioleas, a spokesman during the 2004 Games and a consultant for Olympic bids and organizing committees since. ''The Games were a lost opportunity, no doubt about it. But we still have Ancient Olympia, we still have Marathon. The question is, when are we going to stop missing opportunities?''. (ANSAmed).

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