“We must make a difference in the opening and closing ceremonies of the Athens Olympic Games,» said Dimitris Papaioannou, «concept creator» of the ceremonies. «Because we are not just another country hosting the Games, we are the country that gave birth to them, which now has the pleasure to host them again. «Our ceremonies,» he added, «are not based on size. Many people will participate (8,000 volunteers), but we see them as individuals, as units, something which is very Greek and which is suitable to a small country. What we will do is not what we will see in China, for instance, and which will also be very nice.» Always keeping the secret of the ceremonies sealed, Papaionannou and his associates met recently with journalists at a center in Psyrri. «We have not kept the theme of the ceremonies secret; it’s Greece. What is secret is the means we will use,» he said. «Let us surprise you, for we will have a lot of surprises.» He added that the show they are preparing is not based on stars. «The artists who will take part will be incorporated in the whole and will serve Greece, who will be the true star. «The opening ceremony contains the joy of the organizing city which welcomes the world and, at the same time, opens a window of its civilization to the whole world. The closing ceremony is the farewell celebration, where people relax and have fun.» According to Papaioannou, the opening ceremony’s aim is to celebrate that Greece is the country that gave birth to sports and Athens the city that gave birth to democracy. «It is a great joy to look back and see the country’s roots. Our work is to convey that feeling in the ceremony. The theme of the ceremony is our history reflected art. We are talking about the history and civilization of this country, the fruit of which became the possessions of the whole world over the centuries. We decided that artists who lived in this country should tell how they saw its history and civilization, because their testimony is the strongest.» When asked how this message will be widely understood, Papaioannou replied through the international language of image, movement and music, myth and allegory. «This language has the power of communication everywhere, especially through television which is the main means of transmission. A sense of simplicity and harmony, both features of Greek civilization, will prevail.» Only 35-40 people have more detailed knowledge about the ceremonies and that will be the case until the very end, said Papaioannou, although rehearsals will start in two weeks, in three separate locations. The opening ceremony will last three hours and the closing ceremony two. Rehearsals at the stadium must start at the end of June, since according to Papaioannou they need to have six weeks at the location. He appeared relieved that the placement of the roof covering the Olympic Stadium has started, but he admitted that every delay in the stadium affects his work, although alternative ways of working have been provided for. In any case, the construction of the structure that the ceremonies require has already started on the stadium and the preparation of the sets and costumes is also taking place on schedule.