OPINION

An open letter to the Greek people

While it has been nearly a month since the Olympic cauldron was extinguished in Athens, I can’t stop thinking about how wonderful the 2004 Summer Games really were. In America, the Athens Games attracted the largest audience ever for a non-US-hosted Olympics, but the impact of these Games will be felt worldwide for generations to come.   The Greek people did more than just prove the naysayers wrong by hosting impeccably organized and safe Games in which the athletes took center stage. The Greek people made their Olympic Games extraordinary and special.   As the longest-standing television and financial partner of the Athens Olympic Games, we at NBC have so many to thank for staging an Olympics that will long be remembered for their joy and peace, warmth and friendliness, sportsmanship and inspiration. Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki was more than just a charismatic, strong and wise leader. She showed the world that there are no limits to what modern Greece is capable of accomplishing. She was the perfect hostess to the world and set a shining example for the most helpful and courteous volunteers I’ve encountered in my three decades of attending Olympics. Gianna and her team, especially Marton Simitsek, her talented and tireless operations chief, were nothing short of inspirational in the way they conducted the Games. We also marvel at the leadership of Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, who provided a fresh and energetic new start for the Games from the moment he took office. The principles of democracy, so important to the Greek people, were evident in the spirit of his entire administration, especially in Fanni Palli-Petralia, the alternate minister of culture who played such a key role in the successful operation of the Athens Games. And thank you to Athens Mayor Dora Bakoyannis, who left an imprint on these Olympics by leading with grace, energy and conviction.   The 203 million Americans who watched the Games on the networks of NBC have achieved a better understanding of the Greek people. And so have I. From now on, when someone tells me, «It’s the Greek way,» I will believe. To all the Greek people, you have our eternal gratitude and sincerest congratulations.