Gone with the wind

As everyone knows, rowing is an outdoor sport that is heavily affected by weather conditions. Living in a country with an age-old naval tradition, whose seamen battled the waves across the Mediterranean Sea, this is not a fact we could have overlooked. Rowing is not child’s play; it is an adventure. Which is why we made a rowing center for old salts – with waves, shipwrecks and all. At least it ensures the best shall win. Sarcasm is perhaps inappropriate when it comes to the organization of the Olympic Games. Greek taxpayers have made many sacrifices and everyone hopes the event will be a success. But it’s a natural reflex when reading the official explanations of the strong winds that disrupted the four-day World Junior Rowing Championships at the Schinias rowing center. On Wednesday, the annual northerly winds, known here as meltemia, sank four boats while yesterday, they resulted in organizers canceling the second day of the competition. Local organizers and FISA, the international rowing federation, tried to downplay the event, but one has to be blind not to see the obvious. In the Marathon and Schinias area – which were chosen in spite of strong objections – high winds are not an unusual phenomenon but the norm, especially in August. Now the responsible officials are mulling planting trees to block the winds. Hopefully, planting wind-blocking trees will solve the problem. Besides, the test events are held to assess the venues and locate any potential problems. However, it is hypocritical to portray it as normal teething troubles. Everything seems to point to the fact that competent officials at all levels failed to take the summer winds into account. Whether this was due to oversight or more specific causes that led to the selection of Schinias, it is indicative of the manner in which the Games were undertaken and how the decisions on the various Olympic venues were made. (The Games have also been used as a pretext to push through special measures for the construction of a tramway, which was not even an Olympic project.) No one wants to whinge about the Olympics. We all hope and pray that any errors will be put right and that the Games are a success. But the very fact we are still wishing and praying, when we should be sure, is the result of the murky behind-the-scenes deals and non-transparent appointments for Games-related projects. Matters are now literally blowing in the wind.