OPINION

Elevating our image

The recent VPRC and MRB surveys at home and abroad asking people’s views on the Summer Olympic Games in Athens provide numerical evidence to boost the general mood that has been established thanks to the changed attitude of the foreign news media and the enthusiastic remarks from visitors who attended the Games. Beyond consolidating the favorable overall impression of the quality of the Athens Olympics, the new infrastructure projects in the capital, people’s everyday attitude and the atmosphere that prevailed in the city during the August Games all helped reinforce a previously unseen image of Greece. Foreign visitors came to the realization that Greece is much more than sun, sea and ancient monuments. Rather, they came to see Greece as a creative, safe and modern state. But it was not just the foreigners. We, the inhabitants of Athens, regained confidence in the strengths of our country; we really believed that Greece could be made into a pleasant city thanks to those big infrastructure projects – notwithstanding, of course, that these were implemented at an unacceptable cost. Good impressions and excitement then. Greece must use international praise for the Games as a springboard for a new beginning. The positive feedback must be used in a profitable way toward attracting tourism and investment. We must cultivate the idea of Greece as a responsible, modern state. The administration must exploit Olympic-related venues and facilities to make Athens into a more human city, shaking off its gloomy, suffocating image. Transforming the Olympic opportunity into long-term success demands imagination. Imagination, hard work and the avoidance of patchwork solutions. From the use of the Olympic sports venues (some international federations have already expressed interest in many of these venues, as have ordinary people, who would be keen to use the canoe/kayak center for a charge), to the exploitation of transport systems to ease traffic in the congested streets of the capital, the government and the responsible bodies must come up with imaginative solutions to sustain Olympic momentum. A bit harder will be to make use of the new symbols of Greece generated by the Summer Olympic Games to elevate the image of a modern, dynamic society over the sea-sun stereotype.