Greenpeace: 0 out of 10 for Athens 2004

Environmental group Greenpeace yesterday accused Athens 2004 Olympics organizers of doing too little to organize green Games and of making promises that so far have not been kept. «The environmental bet seems to have been lost and Greece will get the gold medal in missed opportunities,» said Greece’s Greenpeace director, Nikos Haralambidis. He told reporters at a report presentation: «We are now taking several steps back from Sydney (in 2000). Sydney got five marks out of 10, Athens does not even get one mark for environmental issues.» Haralambidis said basic environmental standards, including sun-powered boilers, recycling and waste-management systems that organizers said would be included, had not been integrated in large complexes such as the athletes’ village. «I consider it a major scandal not to have solar-powered boilers for hot water at the Olympic Village.» he said. «We are a country which has almost constant sunshine and it’s crazy not to use it to cut energy consumption.» The 2,300-home athletes’ village, the largest single Olympics project in Athens, which after the Games will be handed over to workers’ families, has no infrastructure for solar-powered boilers, a familiar feature in Greek homes. Haralambidis said organizers (ATHOC), the Greek government and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) were all to blame for a lack of green policies. He said even essential irrigation systems for the thousands of new trees, bushes and shrubs to be introduced for the Games had not been developed. ATHOC officials say that while they have pushed for increased environmental measures, government and state organizations responsible for projects such as the Olympic Village are not always ready to comply. «We continue to push this issue but there’s not always the desired response,» an ATHOC source told Reuters. ATHOC is rushing to meet construction and venue deadlines, two years after the IOC warned organizers they risked losing the Games if they did not speed up preparations. Athens, a congested city of more than 4 million people, has two-thirds of its urban area in concrete and has lost 80 percent of its tree cover over the last two decades. While the Sydney Games managed to introduce new, greener technologies and heightened environmental standards, there did not seem to be any willingness to continue with them for Athens, Haralambidis said.