The huge operation to stage the spectacular show opening August 13 is nearing completion and Athens is on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Each of the responsible officials involved in this mammoth task – apart from the athletes, the undisputed protagonists of the event – has his or her own agenda. Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and his administration are seeking to project an image of Greece as a country that can live up to extraordinary challenges. The government also attempts to exploit the infrastructure projects to make up for the huge price tag. Athens 2004 chief Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki will seek to capitalize on the success of the Games. She should not have any major problem, given that she has become more famous than any of her predecessors. The International Olympic Committee, an amazing group of people to whom candidate cities every four years offer «heaven and earth» so that they can shoulder the colossal burden of the Games, will be credited with another success and continue its triumphant course round the globe. What is new about this Olympics is NATO’s presence at the Games. The alliance seems to have found a new global mission, as the terror threat will probably be around for years to come. For their part, the Greek people have little interest in the various officials’ priorities. In addition, they have yet to grasp the size of the debt bequeathed them by the Games. The wisest among them will leave town to avoid traffic woes and other unexpected hitches. Those who have to be in Athens during August will simply have to put up with the ordeal. And thousands will flock to the stadiums as Greeks love celebrations. The situation can be summed up in one sentence: Now that we’ve undertaken the Games, let’s hope they are successful so we can get some peace and quiet afterward.