OPINION

Revivals and capitalism

We all have selective memories. But when a politician, for instance, conflates the first person singular with the first person plural, he presents his selective memory as the collective memory. Asked if she agreed that an annual track and field meet should be held at Olympia, as the Greek Olympic Committee plans, Tourism Minister Fani Palli-Petralia answered in the official plural: «We all remember how proud we felt during the Olympic Games when the shot-put was held at Ancient Olympia. I think Olympia is a great treasure for Greece which we must capitalize on every day.» But we don’t all «remember how proud we felt» in not-so-distant 2004, because the sanctuary of Olympia itself had been, predictably, polluted by anabolic steroids. Before Irina Korzhanenko, the Russian women’s shot-put winner, could enjoy her victory, she was caught in a doping violation, and not for the first time. The incident sufficed to show what value athletic ideals have for professional sports people, their sponsors and their leaders. It should be enough to persuade anyone that revivals of this sort only harm the renowned site. But since capitalization is like an anabolic steroid for those in power, and since it has been decided that culture equates with tourism (a dogma applied when the Olympeion was handed over during Evangelos Venizelos’s term as Culture Minister to be used for Vangelis Papathanasiou’s ostentatious «Mythodia,» and despite archaeologists’ protests), Ancient Olympia will be ritually slaughtered on the altar of vanity and «capitalism.» The Greek Olympic Committee refers to the «tourism development of the area,» and to «highlighting the sacred site, Olympic values, Olympic education and ideals born in their natural place.» As it was with Irina Korzhanenko.