SPORTS

POSTCARD FROM BEIJING

Paris – I know what it’s like to be on the other side. Four years ago, in the lead-up to the Athens 2004 Games, I was the international media manager waiting for thousands of journalists to arrive. Now I’m on my way to Beijing to attend the 2008 Olympics with a journalist’s accreditation. Despite the last-minute progress, worries persisted that the venues in Athens were not going to be ready in time for the Games. Even worse, fears about a terrorist attack would regularly surface in the international press. In late July 2004, I sat down with a New York Times reporter who was summoned to Athens from his post in Indonesia. He had covered war zones and he was dispatched to report on a possible terrorist attack. He wrote an introductory piece on security (or the lack of it) and waited. A week later, I saw him again. «There is no story for me here,» he said. He left Athens the next day. Reading my e-mail at the airport in Paris en route to Beijing, I was reminded what an agonizing experience it is for any city to reach the opening ceremony. A friend of mine, a TV producer already in Beijing, wrote to me: «The pollution here is going to be the equivalent to ‘Will Athens be ready?’» Before turning off my computer. I checked my Facebook account. Patrick Sandusky, the Chicago2016 spokesperson, wrote on his page about his first day in the Chinese capital: «People are friendly; weather great; everything seems to be working.» Stratos Safioleas was the chief spokesperson for the Athens 2004 organizing committee.