NEWS

Olympic Games

After suffering years of beatings in the foreign press over its preparations for the Olympic Games, Greece showed what it was capable of during the 17 days of the Athens Games. At the closing ceremonies, everyone involved (International Olympic Committee members, sporting officials, foreign journalists and visitors) were ecstatic. Had it not been for the doping scandal involving Greek athletes Costas Kenderis and Katerina Thanou, along with the 22 cases of doping discovered among other athletes from around the world (double the number at the Sydney Games of 2000) the picture would have been perfect. IOC president Jacques Rogge, who previously had made deprecating references to the preparations, called them the «unforgettable, dream Games.» Greece hosted 11,099 athletes from 202 countries – more than at any other Olympiad. It produced the best sporting venues, Olympic Village, Main Press Center and International Broadcasting Center, and the largest number of candidate volunteers in the history of the Games. The transport system, Athenians’ adherence to the traffic measures and the discreet security arrangements satisfied the demands of visitors and Olympic family alike. Now that the excessive costs are known – about 11 billion euros – there have been second thoughts as to whether Greece really needed the Games. The government has already announced the exorbitant costs of some of the venues; any future revenue from their use will be negligible compared to the billions spent on constructing them. Both government officials and organizers believe that further initiatives are needed to lay the groundwork for capitalizing on the Games’ success. These include improved competitiveness in the business environment (to attract foreign investors), the quality of tourist destinations (which determines the magnitude of long-term profits), the standard of tourism infrastructure created for the Games, the country’s ability to sell the experience acquired in organizing other international events, and the marketing campaign that will transform short-term international interest into long-term benefits.