CULTURE

Color abounds in a busy, gray city

Every celebration must, according to tradition, be accompanied by its own special decor. In the case of Athens during the Olympic Games, there are five basic decorative elements embellishing the capital city and giving it its distinctive, Games character: Street banners come in three different sizes and four different colors (yellow, purple, olive green and blue), and have been used to dress various public spaces around the city and hung on lampposts lining major avenues. Another decorative feature is the large swaths of colorful cloth used to hide unsightly features of the city, fencing decrepit or just plain ugly buildings that would otherwise be an eyesore. Another dash of color is added by the banners placed along the length of highway crash barriers, at the entrance of underground pedestrian walkways or on overpasses, adding to the festive atmosphere of the city and hiding many of its imperfections. Ribbons of color, as organizers have dubbed the strips of material that have been placed in densely populated neighborhoods along the narrower streets, replace the banners in areas where there are not enough lampposts from which to hang them. Last, but not least, every entrance to the city has been adorned with colorful banners and billboards welcoming visitors to Olympic Athens. The Athens Olympic Look has been overseen by the International Olympic Committee’s Look of the Games adviser Brad Copeland and, on a local level, designed by the image and identity manager for the Organizing Committee for Athens 2004, Theodora Mantzaris-Kindel, and an international team of some 50 designers.