First arrivals at Olympic Village are enthusiastic about accommodation
Both foreign and Greek athletes have dubbed the small town built in the northern Athens district of Thrakomakedones as the «best ever» Olympic Village in the history of the Games. «Bravo, Greeks,» were the first words of the Olympic coaches from Ecuador. The only negative comment they made was on the absence of greenery. Access to the village is impossible for anyone without accreditation. Protected by a double perimeter fence, it is patrolled around the clock. Cameras and movement sensors monitor the outer limits. Around the fences and at various other points are concrete barriers to prevent any suicide attacks by vehicles laden with explosives. The Israeli team has been given extra protection; they are secluded from the other teams by a separate fence. The Village has come to life over the past few days as dozens of coaches arrive bearing teams from Athens Airport. Hundreds of young people, their suitcases full of sporting gear, their heads full of dreams of success, pass through the security control and are checked into their rooms. «We are staying just 15 minutes from Aghios Cosmas (the sailing center). The Greeks are very good to us. When we tell them we are from Australia, they say they are proud to tell us there are no sharks here,» said Jenny Armstrong and Belinda Stowell, gold medalists in the 470 event in the Sydney Games and the main rivals for Greece’s 470 team of Sofia Bekatorou and Emilia Tsoulfa. John Coates, the president of the Australian Olympic Committee, also expressed satisfaction about conditions at the Village. «There is good fresh food and we are very satisfied with the accommodation and the air conditioning,» he said. Athletes from Ecuador were envious of their Greek rivals after seeing the Nikaia Weightlifting Center. «Everything is perfect. Bravo Greece. It is a small country, but it will hold excellent Games,» said Alexandra Escobar, who came fourth in the 58-kilogram category of the World Championship in Vancouver last year. «Greek weightlifters who train here are very lucky. I am very pleased with the accommodation,» said a fellow athlete. Greek athletes were also pleased with conditions. «The accommodation is very comfortable. The buildings are lovely and we are all thrilled. The training stadium is in very good condition and makes our work easier. I myself am having a bit of trouble with my own equipment but I am sure I’ll overcome this soon,» said archery champion Evangelia Psarra. The Village will be home to about 16,000 athletes and coaches until the end of August. «This Olympic Village, compared to those in previous Olympics, has more open spaces, air-conditioned rooms, excellent sound-proofing and insulation and is low-rise. But there is a lack of greenery,» said Yiannis Papadoyiannakis, head of the Greek Olympic Mission, which will be officially welcomed on August 11 at 7 p.m., when most of the athletes will have moved in. A brief ceremony will be addressed by the Village’s mayor, the national anthem will be played and the flag raised. Similar events will be held for all national missions in the Village.