OPINION

A model

In what was perhaps done as a diplomatic courtesy, Greek officials, who traveled to the United States of America to attend the opening ceremonies of the Winter Olympics, said that we ought to use the Salt Lake City event as a model for the 2004 Athens Games. Given that Greek officials themselves will not want (and who would, anyway, allow them to) disregard protocol and nationalize a universal event, what is it exactly that Athens could imitate or learn? It will be suggested, of course, that Athens should imitate the beautification process that took place in the American city (which, in turn, followed the examples of Sydney and Atlanta). So, just as the authorities in Salt Lake City took care to remove the homeless and drifters from the city center, similarly, we should purge Athens’s focal points of all stray beings, from stray immigrants and beggars to stray animals. In both cases, the aim is equally noble: Nothing should spoil the image of grandeur; nothing should taint the false glory. A second feature to be adopted is the use of minorities in an attempt to make a good impression. Suddenly, and as long as the feast lasts, the politically correct organizers have pulled minorities from society’s fringes and brought them onto center stage. In Greece, of course, there are no native Indians, as in the USA (or Aborigines, as in Australia), but there are Gypsies. Should we then try to include the district of Zefyri in our plans for the 2004 Athens Olympic Games or are Gypsies only valuable as targets in the police shooting competition? Finally, if, for security reasons, we choose to follow the Salt Lake City example (where there are six armed guards for every athlete) we would then have to leave our borders undefended, so that our military could guard the athletes and the fans. But what gesture of peace would such military excess imply and what Olympic truce would there then be to boast about? Above all, government determination during this conflict challenged the power of several agents, releasing forces who now seem convinced that trying to achieve higher goals is not in vain, and that they are not merely taking part in a play with set roles and ending. The general feeling is that competition is much freer and more open, even if there are still huge inequalities in terms of resources and performance.