OPINION

Editorial

Sometimes one wishes, from the depths of one’s heart, that one’s predictions will not be fulfilled. This is the case with Kathimerini’s forecasts for the 2004 Olympic Games. From the very beginning, we expressed a well-founded skepticism at the overall atmosphere of optimism surrounding the organization of the Games, drawing attention to, on the one hand, the country’s limited capabilities when it comes to organizing large events, and, on the other, the serious environmental implications. Unfortunately, reality seems to be justifying the most pessimistic of forecasts. A thousand days before the opening of the Olympic Games, a confidential letter by IOC 2004 chief Dennis Oswald to Athens 2004 organizing committee President Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki that was published in Kathimerini’s Sunday edition characterizes the progress of Olympics-related projects as extremely critical. As regards infrastructure projects, Oswald notes that much to our surprise, it was announced to us that some of the projects have been canceled or reviewed. The deadlock over the Olympics is clearly reflected in the analytical data released by the IOC which are full of red and yellow marks against projects which are known in diplomatic jargon as high-risk. In the light of this dire state of affairs, responsible officials have resorted to the extended use of makeshift works which are somewhat reminiscent of open book fairs or the festivals of youth party organizations. Even if the country finally manages to avoid ridicule, the cost of the Olympic Games is expected to exceed the original budget by more than three times, reaching the breathtaking amount of 3 trillion drachmas. As for Athens, it seems that it will definitely miss the historical opportunity exploited by other countries such as Barcelona, which is to exploit the Games for the purpose of essentially upgrading the infrastructure and the citizens’ quality of life. There is a legend that the Thousand and One Nights were devised by an odalisque in an effort to keep her husband from killing her by entertaining him with a tale a night for 1,001 nights. In the rational West, however, the tricks of the mystic East are in vain. The responsible officials for the 2004 Olympics and, above all, the government which bears the political responsibility will need something more than beautiful fairy tales over the next thousand and one nights if they wish to avert the heavy repercussions of a looming failure. This is a typical practice of the reformist PASOK which occasionally harks back to its militant traditions, hurling its spears at the rightist governments which it holds responsible for, first of all, the civil war, which, in fact, was also fought by parties of the center after the Communist uprising; second, the dictatorship of April 21, 1967, which actually overthrew the conservative government of Panayiotis Kanellopoulos, and, third, the entanglement between the right and the Palace. The abolition of the monarchy, however, did not come about through the initiatives of or machinations by the Communist left or PASOK.