Much ado about nothing

It is understandable that the Greek authorities are sensitive with regard to international security concerns over the 2004 Olympics. Even so, there are limits. Greece’s reaction to the Australian travel advisory showed we have overstepped these limits. The government paid too much attention, turning an insignificant act into a major political issue. The Foreign Ministry, on the other hand, rightly chose to dissociate the advisory from the sensitive issue of Olympic security. The error lies in the manner in which the Greek media handled the issue. Instead of overreacting and making an unnecessary fuss, a few sarcastic comments would have been enough. Australia is a medium-sized power; it cannot influence either the view of the International Olympic Committee, Greece’s international status, or its tourism and economy in general. Whatever their ulterior motives, we should not take the Australians so seriously. There are signs that the travel advisory and, above all, previous negative reports are an expression of their being disconcerted over the small share of the construction spoils allocated to Australian construction companies, and at the same time a form of pressure. The Australians have, obviously, tried to downgrade the Athens Olympics so as to preserve the glory of the best Olympics ever. The lethal terrorist attack in Bali has, no doubt, created a peculiar climate in Australia. In the name of protecting its citizens, the Australian government has issued travel advisories for most countries round the globe – including the US and major European countries. This is a typical lack of moderation which undermines the very aim of such moves. The touchiness of Greece’s officials was an overreaction that gave a political dimension to a insignificant act.