Cleaning up our act

The new campaign for a «clean city» for the Olympics – a joint initiative of the Interior Ministry and the Central Union of Municipalities and Communities – is a first-rate idea but needs the contribution of citizens as well as local authority chiefs and cleaning services if it is going to work. But the «city» is a vast area, comprising dozens of municipalities and communities – not just the «Olympic» ones – which is going to come under not only the international spotlight, but also under intense press scrutiny over the next two weeks. Our decision to show how civilized we are through our cleanliness was a bit of a belated one, but now that we are scrutinizing our city more closely before it goes on display we have begun to realize just how much work it really needs. Indeed – with the exception of major roads and central neighborhoods expected to attract most of the «tourist traffic» – the Athens behind the Olympic facade retains its accustomed sloppiness in the realm of cleanliness, with its dirty gutters, discarded wrappers and cigarette stubs piling up at traffic junctions where motorists so frequently decide to empty their ashtrays. The new campaign may encourage citizens to clean up their habits, but for how long? Until the Games finish and the tourists have gone home? Will our pride in our city then extinguish with the Olympic Flame? And will local authorities continue to make such an effort to keep our streets clean?

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