Olympics benefits will extend to Greek businesses

Athens 2004, the Olympics Games organizers, and the government yesterday signed a memorandum of cooperation on promoting business in Greece in the wake of the Games. «The greatest benefit (from the Games) will come after the Games and it will not be a one-off thing. These Games will leave a legacy,» said Economy Minister Nikos Christodoulakis. «These games will help Greece showcase both its history and its modern face… The accumulated know-how will be used in the future,» said Athens 2004 President Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki. Also present at the signing was Odysseas Kyriakopoulos, chairman and chief executive of the Federation of Greek Industries (SEV). Christodoulakis announced that his ministry will provide five million euros to SEV to strengthen its campaign to showcase Greek products during the Olympics. He added that the government will lend its know-how in organizing Olympic Games to the next summer Games organizers, Beijing. A special office in China will try to involve as many Greek firms as possible in the preparation of the 2008 Olympics. The government has always insisted on the economic benefits of the Olympics in job creation and sustainable high economic growth. It also hopes Athens will become a pole for tourists instead of a mere transit center for vacationers. Angelopoulos-Daskalaki said yesterday the Games will be safe despite a recent barrage of articles in international media questioning the event’s security plans. «We are challenging anyone to come to Greece and see how safe a country it is,» Angelopoulos told the Greek daily Ta Nea. «You can see the serious work being done and compare it to other countries in the world.» Organizers have drafted the biggest security plan in Olympic history – worth $600 million. Close to 50,000 security personnel, three times as many as in Sydney in 2000, including police, special forces and the military, will be involved in sealing off the country from any potential threat during next year’s Games. Organizers have also formed an inter-nation security group, including experts from the United States, Britain, Germany, France, Australia, Spain and Israel, to advise on the safety of the Games. But some international media, citing unnamed sources within Athens 2004, said security plans were «patchy.»