OPINION

Perennial struggle

The Olympic Games have been an occasion for many triumphs and failures, large and small. They have revealed the strengths and flaws of a country that wants to rise higher, but also risks crashing to the depths. After much effort and sacrifice, Greece finally managed to prepare itself on time for the Games, to present visitors and athletes with quality venues, reliable public transport, modern roads, and polite and willing volunteers. At the same time, however, the Games were threatened by a power cut and a television blackout. Worse, the Olympics have been clouded by a doping controversy involving two of Greece’s top athletes. The day after, amid a climate of grief and national humiliation, a group of young hardworking artists with fresh ideas and free of prejudice managed to once again elevate the country and cast public disillusionment aside. With decency and moderation, they put on a splendid show which won universal praise. But Greece’s bad self soon struck back. In her jubilant celebration, the high priestess of the Games almost set Psychico and Filothei ablaze. For their part, Greece’s sports officials were unable to overcome narrow partisan interests and issue a liberating decision on the fate of the two athletes. They chose to wash their hands and pass the buck to the foreign officials. What is the reason for all this? Why is it that each time our country tries to take fly, it trips over and falls? What is obstructing it? Why is it a success at the private level and a disappointment at the public level? How could Greece, a country with no tradition in voluntary work, offer such excellent service and at the same time fail to tackle the Kenteris-Thanou fiasco? Unfortunately, the country is held hostage by a broader circle of organized interests, big and small, which function on a sectional basis that knows no rules or principles. The decision by the Hellenic Olympic Committee – by an overwhelming majority – elevated the sectional interest over the common good and underscored its own role in the scandal. The committee chose to sustain a glimmer of hope for survival even though this meant disregarding the national perils and prolonging a degenerate state of affairs. Such rigid demeanor is to be seen in many other organized interests, big and small. Unions and a plethora of interest groups function this way. There is no room for tolerance however. If we want a better place for Greece in the world, we will have to shake off these sort of bonds. We must brave the political cost and impose rules and principles. It is our only hope of transcending our perennial struggle between triumph and tragedy.