OPINION

Megalomanic works

When Athens was chosen to host the 2004 Olympic Games, the government promised to bring back the moderation and harmony appropriate to the Games and to avoid overcapitalizing on them for profit. Unfortunately, when the time came, those promises were forgotten and projects that bear the mark of megalomania, exhibitionism and pointless decadence were chosen. Many more projects than needed were chosen, and the solutions preferred were so costly as to be almost unfeasible. The choices were not only the result of the rulers’ arrogant hubris of a «powerful Greece» nor of their pretentiousness. They were chosen for more profitable reasons. The study of the projects was done more or less to the order of the builders, whose interests were the determining factor. The political leadership, bound to these circles by many entangled coils, and the administrative and state mechanism, which are deeply embroiled with the same interests, not only did not hinder but actually facilitated the imposition of the builders’ opinions. The builders themselves, who are not renowned for technical prowess, took only their own interests into consideration when it came to business ethics. The first victim of this policy has been the national economy, of course, as money was spent lavishly on large, costly projects that were not necessary at such a time. The consequences of this megalomanic planning, hidden until now, are starting to become visible: The consortium that undertook to build the roof over the OAKA swimming pool announced that it will not manage to have it ready before the Games and that an emergency solution is being sought. The company which was to widen the marathon route has been declared bankrupt. The government has already canceled Calatrava’s dome for the Nerantziotissa station, which was to connect the ISAP and suburban railways, and the Public Works Ministry has decided to use another design produced by French experts. The International Federation of Water Sports has already sent three letters protesting delays on the Olympic swimming pool. The IOC is concerned about the tramway, and many wonder whether even the famous Calatrava dome over the Olympic Stadium will be ready in time. Let us hope that in the end at least Greece’s dignity will be saved. The price of the government’s readiness to submit to the desire to construct grandiose or inopportune projects at the order of vested construction interests will be heavy for the Greek people.