Surprise and emotion on the winner’s platform at medal time

The Olympics awards ceremonies are standardized – requiring a platform with three levels, one for each of the three medal-winners, women standing around to accompany them to and from the platform and present them with bouquets, the raising of the flags, congratulations from officials, the presentation of medals and the playing of the gold medalist’s national anthem. The host city has considerable margin for putting its own slant on things. «Our own character, the Greek character, will be obvious and emotional, I think,» said Zaglakoutis, although he would not reveal what the groups of volunteers surrounding the victors would be wearing. «At each Olympiad, as we know, a single uniform is worn at all the awards ceremonies. We will vary this slightly, but you must allow us to keep it a surprise that might provide some pleasure,» he added. As for the music to accompany the awards, it will be the same for all events, in different lengths, and has been specially composed by Nikos Antypas. «He has composed an impressive score, very appropriate for the atmosphere of an awards ceremony, that expresses what has to be expressed at that moment: pride, emotion, certainty, euphoria. Of course, it has clear Greek influences.» This music will be played until the time for the gold medalist’s national anthem. Even here there has been a change – the German record company Naxos, which has a database of national anthems, was asked to reorchestrate and record the anthems, using a symphony orchestra rather than a band. The Slovakian Symphony Orchestra conducted by Peter Breiner has recorded all the anthems, each of which is to last for one minute. Athens 2004 has already made known the changes to the medals themselves, even to the standard side of the medals which is the same as in the Amsterdam Olympics of 1928. «It depicts a seated goddess and a colossus in the corner,» said Zaglakoutis. «I persuaded the International Olympic Committee by showing them an illustrated report that Nike was never pictured seated but always descending from the sky. They were not only persuaded to change the standard side of the medals, and to show Nike of Paeonios hovering over the Panathenaic Stadium with the Parthenon in the distance, but decided that this image should be kept in future Olympiads.» A number of engravers were asked to submit designs for the standard side of the medals. One by Elena Votsi was eventually chosen. For the side chosen by the host city, the Greek organizers decided on lines by Pindar and depiction of the flame. The medals were made by the Evsimon firm, free of charge. Mystery surrounds the type of bouquets presented to the victors. They will not be gladioli, nor other showy flowers, but small, multicolored bouquets, like spring in a Greek meadow, with an olive sprig and myrtle. The association of Greek florists (Interflora) has offered them as its own contribution – a considerable one since there are 5,500 bouquets. So these Olympic Games will not only sound and look Greek, they will also smell Greek.

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