OPINION

The cost of luxury

Accommodation for tourists, the heavy traffic and security during the Athens Olympic Games are the three major issues which concern the immortals of the International Olympics Committee (IOC), as the government struggles to reassure them that everything will have been taken care of by 2004. In the same way, the government recently made assurances that there would be no further delays in the completion of Olympics-related projects. One thing that the prime minister cannot reassure the IOC of, however, is the size of the final cost of the projects. Despite the fact that the government has repeatedly said that the cost of the Games will be kept under 1.5 trillion drachmas (4.5 billion euros), and although Simitis is instructing his ministers to respect the budget and trim any subordinate projects, in truth, imaginative as the government’s creative accounting may be, the final cost will exceed 3.8 trillion drachmas (11 billion euros). This is a huge cost that even the world’s wealthiest states would not allocate for a 15-day event. The work of the famous Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava for the refurbishment of the Olympic Stadium will cost 70 billion drachmas (205 million euros) alone. And, perhaps, in a country where hospitals were decent, where pensioners did not have to take to the streets to beg for higher pensions, and where farmers did not block the roads in protest of their falling incomes, perhaps the «luxury» of a Calatrava would not be as provocative. «(The PKK party council) has deemed it necessary to stop political, organizational and practical activities under the name of PKK, particularly within the European Union and Turkey,» the daily Ozgur Politika said in its Internet version, quoting a PKK statement.