Athens 2004 responds to elitism claim

Responding to an editorial published in Kathmerini on October 19 (and the English Edition a day later), Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki, president of the Athens 2004 Organizing Committee, sent Kathimerini’s editor a letter (below), which was published yesterday in the Greek edition. The newspaper answered in its editorial. Sir, I am writing in response to the editorial which you published on Kathimerini’s front page last Sunday (Oct. 19, 2003), titled «2004 Games, an event for the few.» The editorial is an obvious distortion of the substance of the figures presented in a front-page graphic referring to a poll concerning «The country’s most important problems.» The argument developed in your editorial that 0.8 percent of Greeks consider the Games «among the country’s three most important problems» is obviously arbitrary. Unemployment, high prices, problems in the health and education systems, and narcotics, are problems according to the front-page table. Only 0.8 percent consider the Olympic Games a problem. The graph, in other words, shows a listing of problems and not of issues based on the public’s interest. I am sure that you know – and conceal – the results of published polls (which were not carried out for Athens 2004) according to which a combined 59.4 percent of those polled said the Olympic Games interested them either «very much» or «quite a lot» while a combined 40.1 percent said they had «little interest» or «no interest.» In addition, I would like to note that Greek citizens evaluate positively both what the Organizing Committee does and how it does it. I express my surprise at the way in which a newspaper like Kathimerini can (consciously or not, it makes little difference in the end) make an obviously arbitrary interpretation in order to build upon its criticism – which is otherwise completely necessary and welcome. As for your claim that the bid was «undertaken by a small group that lacked any public legitimacy and (public) enthusiasm for the prospect,» I remind you that the bid for the Olympic Games was decided by the Greek government and, opinion polls at the time showed, with the support of nearly 90 percent of Greeks. Thank you for the hospitality, Gianna Angelopoulos