Greeks deliver their verdict on the Games

Pride and satisfaction with the way the Olympic Games were held in Athens, concern for the future of the Olympic venues, optimism about post-Olympic tourism traffic and a positive view of Greece claiming the right to hold the Games permanently are just some of the feelings Greeks are left with now the Olympics are over. A nationwide poll by Kappa Research showed that the vast majority of Greeks consider the Games to have been a major achievement for the country which will offset benefits in the future; they feel the public works projects are now a part of the national heritage, and the greatest factor in the success of the Games was the volunteers. Weightlifter Pyrros Dimas tops the list of their favorite Greek athletes (by a wide margin), followed by Athanassia Tsoumeleka and Nikos Kaklamanakis. Those polled also appeared to feel that the cost of maintaining and operating the Olympic venues should be funded by exploiting their commercial potential. However, most believe the best combination would be cooperation between the state and the private sector. As for the sports themselves, 73 percent believe that «doping is inevitable, but should be done in such a way as to be undetectable,» while 71.6 percent agree that «Greek athletics should be competitive; the country should try to produce athletes of a high standard.» However, when asked whether they would prefer it if an athlete won no medals as long as they knew that none of them had used performance-enhancing drugs, 72.8 said yes. Just over half agreed that «in this day and age, if you don’t use the latest methods, you can’t reach championship level.» As for the Games’ effect on quality of life, 47.8 percent said it was «positive» and 18.9 percent said «probably positive.» Another 18.9 percent were in favor of banning the circulation of private cars in city centers. Attiki Odos was felt to be the most beneficial of the public works projects by over 70 percent of those polled, followed by the Rio-Antirio bridge (61.6 percent), the suburban rail line, metro and tram (49.9 percent). The new Eleftherios Venizelos Airport was in fourth place. For the vast majority, the opening ceremony was the highlight of the Games. Although only 26.7 percent liked the design of the Olympic torch in the main stadium, 41.7 percent were moved by the way it was extinguished in the closing ceremony, when it was «blown out» by a little girl from the SOS Children’s Village. The traditional folk dances in the closing ceremony found more favor than the final «nightclub» acts (23.2 percent compared to 12.5 percent respectively).