CULTURE

Despite leak, surprise is still intact

Grand Master of Ceremonies Dimitris Papaioannou is now almost completely immersed, 24 hours a day, in preparations for the first great moment of the Games. What would you like to say to the Greeks today, only a few days before the opening ceremonies? I would like to talk about something that I’ve come to realize in the last few days: That is that Athens main Olympic stadium is a wonderful place! A fabulous construction! I’m now spending day and night here and I constantly feel that we should be very proud of this stadium. What is really intoxicating to me, however, as we draw closer to the opening, is the enthusiasm of all the volunteers taking part in the opening and closing ceremonies; the way in which we are all working together. I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything else in the world. Right from the start, I felt great about our collaboration, but now, from the moment we entered the stadium for the final rehearsals, they have been very moving. Here, at this final destination. In the end, did you have enough time at your disposal for rehearsing? Only a few months ago, when the Calatrava roof was still pending, this was one of your greatest fears: lack of sufficient time for rehearsing in the stadium. Rehearsal time is never enough when you’re preparing something. Especially in the case of an event of this caliber, which multiplies the amount of time needed. Are the biggest difficulties over now? How do you feel these days? I feel joy, enthusiasm and tremendous anxiety! What we call «anxitement,» a combination of anxiety, stress and excitement, fascination and enthusiasm. How much of the surprise was ruined by the Sunday Mirror’s leak, concerning the opening ceremonies’ story line? The surprise is still about what will happen there, in situ. No, nothing has been ruined for us. The only thing that upsets me is this continuous insistence on revealing details about the ceremonies. That is something that I honestly don’t understand. Is this coming from both the Greeks and the foreigners? Greeks too! It’s something I don’t understand, but it doesn’t matter. There’s hardly any room for bad feelings now. There is a lot of work and we are completely focused on that, on this universe we are creating here and which has absorbed us all. What is your take on the kind of atmosphere felt both in Greece and abroad in terms of Greece and the Games? I believe that there has been a complete about-face and that is very positive, of course. The other thing I know – as much as I can, given that I’m completely wrapped up in my work – is that every day and night, I see Athens getting prettier and prettier. I realize that looking at the city when I go from my place to work and back again, to get a few hours of sleep. The city is getting more and more beautiful.