If Putin can block Athens’s roads, what will happen during the Games?

Those of us who have accompanied President Costis Stephanopoulos on his official visits abroad must admit that the same scene – if not worse – occurs when a presidential cavalcade passes through the center of capital cities. In Rome, for example, not only every intersection along the main road followed by the president was closed, but Italian traffic policemen roared alongside every truck, car and motorcycle, shouting at the drivers to get out of the way. If Athens came to a standstill for the pope, and now for Russian President Vladimir Putin, it’s just one day. Let’s think instead about what the 2004 Olympic Games will mean if no solution is found by means of flyovers, underpasses or side streets. This is a serious issue that will not go away with Putin as he flies off to Thessaloniki today. In an interview in Time magazine with Athens 2004 President Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki, reporter Anthi Karasavva did not touch on the question of transport that is of such great concern to IOC President Jacques Rogge, even though the article was titled «A Race Against Time.» As for the greatest obstacle to be overcome if the Games are to be a success, President Gianna had an answer at the ready: «We Greeks always want to do everything at the last minute!» HELBI