NEWS

Secrets for the spectators

Strict security measures and special transport arrangements might cause a few difficulties for some ticket-holders for Olympic events, but most agree that this unique experience is worth a little trouble. A few simple precautions, however, will make all the difference, such as planning to arrive at the venue earlier than the time specified, being adaptable to transport arrangements and being prepared for the security checks. Then there are the rules protecting Olympic sponsors, who have specified that only certain brands of bottled water or soft drinks may be consumed, and have also designated a dress code – no T shirts with advertisements for rival brands, for example. And, of course, smoking is not allowed, except in special areas set aside for the purpose. There are several tips that will help spectators enjoy the Games. The first is to be prepared by wearing the right clothes – be lightly dressed, particularly in the morning and afternoon hours, and have bring sunscreen lotion, a hat and water bottle. If you want to drink a brand of water other than that of the sponsors, just remove the label from the bottle for it not to be confiscated. To avoid delays when entering the venues, try to take as little as possible with you. Large bags take much longer for security guards to check and delay not only the owner but everyone else in line. The more you take with you, the longer you will have to wait at the entrance. Ladies, don’t wear high heels as you might have to walk some distance. For example, if you enter the Olympic stadium complex at its eastern end and have tickets for the Velodrome on the western side, you will have to walk 400-500 meters. According to Vassilis Vavakos, head of spectator services for Athens 2004, arriving early for an event will reduce the amount of hassle. The sooner the better, he said, as most people arrive at the last minute, creating long queues for security checks. Instructions on the tickets say spectators should arrive two hours beforehand, and this is a good idea, depending on the event, of course – there will not be nearly as much crowding at a softball event as at the basketball semifinals or the track-and-field finals. Gates at venues do not close at any particular time, but if you arrive at the last minute and there is a long line, you might miss half of the game you have paid to see. Don’t forget anything in the car, because once inside the venue, you will not be able to go out and come back in again. Vavakos suggests that spectators plan their trip to the venue properly and read the official Spectators’ Guide issued by Athens 2004, which is available at 20 branches of Alpha Bank. If tickets have been sent by post, holders will soon receive the guide at the same address. Closer to the opening ceremony, the guides will be available at ticket outlets and other information centers. All details regarding entry to venues is printed on the tickets themselves – the gate, section, row, seat, date and time, the venue and sport, as well as ticket price.