OPINION

Hot air

We did not need the Simitis-Blair Parthenon Marbles exchange to realize how so-called national issues are manipulated for cynical partisan purposes. The fact that the Cyprus issue – an issue whose national character is clearer than that of the request for the return of the Parthenon Marbles – has in the post-1974 period been used as a pretext for holding early elections, only to be forgotten the day after, should be enough. Besides, our parties have identified improvements in the education and health sectors as national issues as well but this has barely had any effect on their attitude. In describing the 2004 Games, the political parties have not been limited to wielding the «national issue» label, but have gone so far as to honor the event with the more heavy sounding «national vision» or «national wager.» Should these lyrical statements be collected by a patient archivist, they could fill a heavy tome with chatter, frivolousness and deception. However, words must be accompanied by deeds. Otherwise, they are nothing but hot air. The costly advertising campaign for next year’s Games has had little impact on the population. Even those who were enthusiastic in the beginning appear to have rid themselves of the illusion. The negligible 0.8 percent who rate the Games among Greece’s top priorities should not have come as a surprise, nor does the low figure underscore any lack of patriotism. The root causes of their indifference or denial are many: the mammoth waste, the implementation of projects merely for show, the frittering away of money by the government’s business cronies, the environmental damage, the Athens-centric bias of the entire venture, and the belief that the return of the Games to their birthplace is not enough to purify them. In truth, the people have been asked to be the main sponsor of an event that will only benefit that same narrow circle of people.