Indifferent public

One of the findings of the recent MRB survey, that a mere 0.8 percent of Greeks rate the 2004 Olympic Games among the three most important problems facing the country today, should not come as a surprise. There is a widespread feeling that people are not gripped by the spirit of the Games, they do not see them as an individual or even as a national endeavor, but rather as an obligation that they will have to meet (before being asked to pick up the tab). Kathimerini seems to be right in attributing the lack of public enthusiasm to the fact that, as the organizers’ public behavior and decisions demonstrate, the Games are promoted as an affair that only involves a narrow elite, thereby distancing the citizen/spectator. The organization of the Games is pervaded by an atmosphere of vanity and arbitrariness, and is shot through with political and economic pressures, both domestic and foreign. This – already repulsive – picture is worsened by the ambiguity surrounding figures on expenditure and the ease with which the authorities announce huge budget overruns or revised cost projection. When one state official estimates security spending for the Athens Games at 650 million euros while a colleague of his raises the estimate to a billion euros, one cannot help but feel that the spending of public monies should be more closely monitored.