CULTURE

A major concert and the request for Olympic volunteers

The illuminated clock on Kifissias Avenue, near the Olympic Stadium, showed 99 (sic!) days till the opening of the Olympic Games in Athens in August 2004. Below it was a traffic jam, with lines of pedestrians making their way to the OAKA indoor basketball stadium, where the big concert was being held to present the official request for volunteers. Traffic police bustled about trying to effect some kind of order, limos with smoked widows transported officials to the concert, and in front of the venue a group of activists unfurled their banners bearing slogans against the 2004 Games, such as: «Kickbacks, cement and anabolic steroids, these are the ideals of the Olympiad.» The demonstrators were arrested and then set free, under orders not to approach the area again. Amid the crush, some 10,000 people – according to the official figures, 16,000 according to an unofficial count – searched for their seats. They were helped by 250 volunteers dressed in khaki uniforms and blue scarves who had been trained as ushers. A year since the start of the volunteer program, this was their first public appearance, led by the president of the Olympic Games organizing committee, Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki. Actor Spyros Papadopoulos, singer Marios Frangoulis with his resonant tenor voice, singer Alkistis Protopsalti with her unique voice and stage presence, and song writer Dionysis Savvopoulos, surrounded by children, all volunteered their services. «Let the dancing begin,» sang Savvopoulos. Admission was free and the audience responded with enthusiasm, not only to the verve of the performers but also to the exhortations of Angelopoulos-Daskalaki, who was dressed in a red jacket. «Red is the color of volunteerism,» she explained. The warm atmosphere of cooperation is symbolized by the volunteers’ emblem of three people joining hands in the shape of a heart. Angelopoulos-Daskalaki spoke as a manager who has confidence in the task she has undertaken ever since Athens first sought to host the Games. That effort depends on the pride of Athenians, who have managed to achieve the miracle of reviving the Olympic Games in their land of origin. «We are looking for mass participation in the greatest challenge our country has ever undertaken,» she said. «More than 4 billion people, participants and spectators, will see our country. Greece’s message to the world from this global platform is that we are all building the Greece of 2004 with new infrastructure, expertise and professionalism. We are not presenting our heritage as a substitute for progress but as an added value. And the volunteers,» she added, «are the key to the successful organization of every Olympic Games. The committee has received expressions of interest from 32,000 aspiring volunteers. The question now is to get the 60,000 volunteers mentioned in the bid package for the Games. For every athlete in the Games there will be six volunteers helping to make the Games go on. We ask you to offer your time, your efforts, your creativity and your ideas.» Application forms were distributed at the stadium, and are also available through the Internet, by telephone on the toll-free number 080011.2041, or from the offices of Athens 2004 (above Carrefour at Terma Ambelokipon). The idea of volunteerism for the Olympic Games is falling on fertile ground. The problem that must be resolved is public transport. With 10,000 visitors, a huge traffic jam was created. Imagine what it will be like with millions of visitors. HELBI The cost of the investment for a franchisee is about 30 million drachmas, while 74 percent of franchisers require an additional entry fee, which on average amounts to 13,000 euros per outlet. It varies between 3,000 and 30,000 euros and the largest are required by the catering chains. Also, 37.8 percent of firms charge franchisees a percentage of the total advertising costs, 27 percent require royalties on sales and 9 percent require a fee on orders.Turnover was 95.55 million euros on volume of 366 million shares.(Reuters)