The celestial powers once again failed to hear our ritual prayers yesterday, thus the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics will be lit by the back-up flame, as was the case in Sydney. But instead of being anxious about the will of the immortals and fearful that, owing to their vindictive lack of sunrays, we will not be able to spread our flame to the other end of the world and boast of our being their heirs, it would be more honest to light the Olympic torch with the fire which is actually burning in Greece’s sports (and which, owing to the genuine efforts of the state and government agents, will die down only after it turned everything into ashes): the fire of gasoline bombs such as those used during the weekend, the fire of violence, of tarnished credibility, of hooliganism – both the popular and the official variety, in which eminent citizens have taken part. Systematic self-deceivers, and mired in our self-delusion, we insist on turning a blind eye to the reality that so asphyxiatingly surrounds us, and assert that in 2004 we will resurrect the half-dead Olympic spirit and restore the purity of the Games which have been debased by performance-enhancing drugs and money. In spite of all this, the only sport in Greece in which noble emulation rather than violence plays the leading role is badminton – for the simple reason that there is no badminton in this part of the world. In the meantime, and in order to practice the sport of petrol-bomb throwing – which we will try to include in the Olympics’ program, citing our right as hosts of the Games – we lay fiery traps for our opponents, we hurl stones at commuter trains, and set fire to the car of some soccer player in order to knock some sense into him, so that he does not stick his neck out with his comments in the future. Finally, it is no coincidence that a figure recently elected as deputy minister responsible for Olympics-related projects has in the recent past acted with all the delicacy of a pure hooligan, protected by his parliamentary immunity.