NEWS

Swimmers in Attica face Olympic obstacles

Those who are staying in Athens during the summer will be swimming in the Saronic or the Euboean Gulf rather than off the shores of Myconos or Santorini. Despite the pleas of Athens 2004 organizers for Athenians to leave the city this August, and so help the Games run smoothly (though surely the famed Greek hospitality requires the presence of the hosts), summer leave for thousands of workers has been postponed. So our needs for sun and sea will be met by the beaches of Attica where, apart from us, thousands of visitors will be seeking somewhere to cool down. Just how good are those beaches? There are still many problems, given that a sunny weekend can cause a major bottleneck on coastal Poseidonos Avenue, while Marathonas Avenue presents the same picture because of the works that are still in progress. In the former case, hopes are pinned on the tram, though experience shows that Athenians need some time to put their trust in new means of transport. Besides, as of July 20 traffic restrictions for the Olympic Games go into force, and will necessarily confine traffic on the coastal road to one lane. In the latter case, as Marathon Mayor Evangelos Mexis told Kathimerini, with rubble and potholes everywhere and work still in progress, the area doesn’t look as if it is in the throes of pre-Games celebrations. Yet Athenians will still negotiate their way around the obstacles to make their way to Attica’s beaches. And it will cost them plenty. One day on an organized beach will cost a four-member family 50 euros, as much as the daily wage of a public servant in a senior post.