OPINION

Using an Olympic opportunity

Congratulations, praise and thanks from everywhere! That is the reaction of the international media to the Olympic Games in Athens now that they are over. The Athens Games brought in a fresh new spirit, according to the major American television network ABC, which praised the superb sports venues as perhaps the best in history. The habitually reserved Times of London did not hide its enthusiasm for what it called fantastic Olympic Games, saying they surpassed all expectations in terms of perfect organization, quality and the excitement of the events themselves; Greece outdid itself and has proved wrong those who doubted its ability. Meanwhile, strange as it may seem, some who had criticized Greece harshly during the preparatory stage are now retracting their words. «I owe an apology. I’m sorry for the way we behaved. We were paranoid and stupid. We were wrong. We made fun of you and predicted you wouldn’t be ready,» was the message conveyed by CNN; and the speaker added that he had felt much safer in Athens these three weeks than in Los Angeles or Detroit. The Philadelphia Inquirer’s correspondent wrote much along similar lines, apologizing and saying Greece was better prepared than the US was in 1996. «Greece assumed a huge undertaking and succeeded, and its competitiveness is equal to your warmth.» «You embraced my family as if it was yours and we have already decided to visit again.» This is the essence of the benefits gained from the Olympics – Greece’s regeneration as a tourist destination through highlighting its contemporary face to billions of television viewers and hundreds of millions of newspaper readers. The Games may be over, but now for many months and years what are needed are persistent, systematic coordinated efforts to make the most of the tremendous advantage of this promotion of Greece around the world. The government and entrepreneurs must do their best to capitalize on this unique opportunity.