NEWS

A Greek victory over Rome

Nearly six years after picking Athens over Rome to host the 2004 Games, International Olympics Committee officials yesterday made a decision that for many Italians may add insult to injury. Meeting in Prague, the IOC board accepted a proposal by the Athens 2004 organizing committee to change the obverse of the medals awarded to Olympic victors, which since the 1928 Games in Amsterdam has featured a Roman stadium that resembles the Colosseum, coupled with the female impersonation of victory (Nike) riding in a chariot. «That was hard for Greeks to swallow,» IOC Executive Director for the Games Gilbert Felli said. From 2004, the front of the medals will be decorated with a winged victory modeled on a celebrated statue, found in Olympia, by the fifth-century BC sculptor Paeonius against Athens’s Panathenaic Stadium, where the first modern Olympics were held in 1896. The reverse changes every four years. Next year’s will be based on the Athens 2004 logo. «The medals’ permanent features will now be clearly Greek,» Hellenic Olympic Committee Chairman Lambis Nikolaou remarked.