In the final stretch

Nineteen days before the opening of the Athens Games, Olympics-related venues and infrastructure projects are being delivered one after the other at the 11th hour. Concerns that the Games would have to begin before some of the major projects contained in Athens’s Olympic bid were completed have largely subsided. But the pressure is still very much on. When projects are delivered at the very last moment, there is no time for testing them in everyday conditions – always very different from trial runs before delivery. No matter how hard designers use their imagination and foresightedness, it is never possible to cater for those unexpected snags that come up in everyday practice. Unexpected complications are not the only problem. In an event of such magnitude as the Olympics, during which dozens of competitions take place in different venues at the same time, the coordination of clearly practical activities – which at first sight appears to be a simple procedural issue – demands perfect tuning, emphasis on the details, extreme caution and circumspection. As an example, for waste-disposal units alone, at least 2,000 people need to be accredited so as to have access to the sports venues. The accreditation of such a great number of journalists, judges, technicians and other officials is a difficult and complex task. Even more complex is the coordination of transportation so that athletes and judges can reach the venues in due time. Ensuring smooth traffic flow in the city will also be a crucial parameter in attracting last-minute visitors to the Games. Finally, it is crucial that we offer quality coverage as television is the medium through which the Games will travel across the country and the whole world. «We feel that the situation is under control,» said Alternate Culture Minister Fanni Palli-Petralia, stressing, however, that the final outcome will depend on the details. That will determine whether we succeed in showing to the world the quality of our venues – perhaps the best built in Olympics history. One wishes that the generosity which often pushes the Greeks to exceed their limits will contribute to a successful Games. Now is the time. We must do our best in order to ensure flawless coordination and to be prepared for any unexpected incidents. We have entered the final stretch. And we should be well-prepared for it.