Olympic jewels cast in dust and garbage

With less than three months to go before the Games’ opening ceremony, all 34 of the spanking new sporting venues are at least 80-90 percent ready. But if the stadiums, open and covered, are ready, or nearly so, the same cannot be said of their surroundings. It appears highly likely that as international athletes and journalists arrive in August, immigrant workers will still be planting trees and shrubs around the venues and engineers paving roads. Kathimerini visited some of the venues a few weeks ago – the Faliron Coastal Olympic Zone and Hellenikon Olympic Complex, the Olympic Village at Thrakomakedones, the Equestrian and Shooting Centers at Markopoulo, and the Olympic Sports Complex. None of these has been completely finished. The problem common to all of them is the surrounding terrain. In some cases work has begun, in others the surrounding site resembles a garbage dump. At the beautiful Equestrian Center and at Hellenikon, the problem is not so acute, but at the Olympic Village and at the main stadium the situation can only be described as tragic. At the shooting center, where test events have been held, athletes had to go up dirt roads past a pile of garbage in order to enter the competition venue. Another problem at all the sites is the new roads, which are either non-existent or have simply been marked out, such as that leading to the Shooting Center, or the extension of Kymis Avenue leading directly to the Olympic Village. The new stadiums and gymnasiums are truly impressive, with modern facilities and high-tech installations. The Olympic Village in particular, a model housing settlement with 2,292 apartments, was supposed to be set in large expanses of greenery. These are nowhere to be seen.