Most say Games are ‘everyone’s business’

Greeks are extremely concerned by the high cost of the Olympic Games venues and are convinced that it is they who will have to foot the bill, says a survey by MRB carried out in December. Residents of Thessaloniki, smaller towns and provincial areas believe these projects will only intensify the inequalities between town and country. Meanwhile, Athens 2004 President Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki has seen her popularity slip since the same poll was conducted a year ago. The part of the poll conducted exclusively for Kathimerini shows that 80.6 percent of those questioned thought that the cost of the Olympic projects was too high and that the bill would be paid the taxpayer. Only 1.3 percent did not agree. However, answers to other questions indicate that despite their concern over rising costs, the public is looking forward to the Games – 61.8 percent think the Olympics is «everyone’s business» and 59.3 percent think it is «a great honor» for Greece to host the Games. Another 56.7 percent think the Games are creating infrastructure the country needs and nearly 40 percent believe that the money has been well spent, considering the joy and pride it will bring the country. Concern over rising costs is particularly high among PASOK voters, although they appear to be slightly more positive about the Games than New Democracy party supporters. Over 77 percent of PASOK voters believe the cost of the Games is too high and that the people will pay, compared to 83.2 percent of ND voters. As to whether the Olympic Games is «everyone’s business,» 71.5 percent of PASOK voters agreed, compared to 57.7 percent of ND. More PASOK than ND supporters (65.1 to 51 percent) thought the Olympic-related projects were creating necessary infrastructure. Another interesting question was whether the respondents thought the Games were creating even more inequalities between Athens and the provinces, given that despite the government’s efforts to promote the Games as an event affecting the whole country, the prevailing impression is that only Athens will benefit. Only 17.8 percent of Athenians thought the benefits were not distributed equitably. However, in Thessaloniki this figure was as high as 61.7 percent, in other towns 49.7 percent and in rural areas over 50 percent, spread fairly evenly across the party board. The popularity of Athens 2004 President Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki also appears to be waning despite the impression that people still think highly of her. In December 2002, a survey by the same polling firm found she had an approval rating of 60.3 percent. This has now dropped to 48.6 percent. Meanwhile, negative impressions of her have increased from 13.4 percent to 23.6 percent over the same period. Nevertheless, asked to rate the Athens 2004 president’s work so far, 58.1 percent say it has been «very good» or «good.» Nearly a quarter say they have «great faith» in her abilities and 43.3 percent «quite a lot of faith.» The nationwide MRB poll was held between November 18 and December 1 among a population sample of 2,000.