OPINION

Opportunities

We are in the final stretch before the Games’ opening ceremony and it is already clear that the Olympics experience has introduced new practices that will continue to influence daily life after the Games are over. No doubt the outcome of this unprecedented effort will depend in part on the smooth operation of the national power grid and the telecommunications network, as well as on the complex arrangements designed to welcome the foreign delegations and teams to Greece. Nevertheless, we should not underestimate the importance of the city’s overall functioning. That is not just a task for the responsible officials, but one for average citizens as well. Athenians are accustomed to cutting corners on occasion in order to overcome everyday problems. Doing this may occasionally make life easier at the individual level, but overall it undermines the city’s livability. And it won’t do when it comes to the mammoth task of staging the Olympic Games, which demands a reinforced sense of self-discipline – and not just in terms of getting around the capital. Hosting the Games has encouraged a number of measures that we should have already adopted in order to improve our everyday lives. We have to learn to move about and function in a different way. The Olympics give us a unique chance to try out these new practices which can only work when they are embraced by society as a whole. Because this cannot be achieved on a voluntary basis, the Games are a unique opportunity to experience their beneficial effect – particularly after the inauguration of the new means of public transport and the extensions of the existing networks. The transport system upgrade combined with longer service hours will help reduce car use, which is the main cause of Attica’s traffic woes. The government’s Olympics-related measures are also aimed at addressing less obvious issues whose sum will determine the way the city operates on a broader level. After the Olympics, for example, businesses and shops should only be able to resupply during the night hours. Similarly, garbage pickup should be limited to nighttime. The government must maintain an enhanced police presence after the Games are over so as to curtail crime. Apart from high-security issues, which are mostly related to terrorism, there is also the question of public protection against common crime. The extension of the stores’ working hours – a source of bickering between smaller and big businesses – will also offer a useful experience. The Olympic Games will give those in the trade an opportunity to test the gains and the drawbacks of a measure that is welcomed by consumers.