The Hellenic Olympic Committee (HOC) will tomorrow announce a three-pronged initiative to mark the 10th anniversary of the Opening Ceremony of the Athens 2004 Olympic Games.
The event itself is fondly remembered, being described at the Closing Ceremony as “unforgettable, dream Games” by then International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Jacques Rogge.
However, the unseemly scramble to be ready in time and the collection of expensive, underutilised sports venues left behind have resulted in a distinctly mixed legacy.
This in a period when inhabitants of several more affluent West European cities – even those, like Oslo, far less scarred than Athens and Greece by the recent economic crisis – are exhibiting increased scepticism as to the benefits of acting as an Olympic host.
The HOC’s announcements are as follows:
First, an Athens 2004 museum is to be inaugurated at Olympia, site of the Ancient Games.
Financed by the IOC, this will house published materials relating to the successful Athens bid and the subsequent Games.
Second, a group of Athens 2004 volunteers is to hold a 10th anniversary get-together at the Olympic Village, which was turned into social housing.
As part of this gathering, the volunteers will engage in a concerted clean-up of facilities such as the Village’s old mixed/international zone, which have become cluttered with accumulated rubbish.
Third, a total of three studies into the overall impact of the Olympics and Paralympics are to be conducted and completed before the end of this year.
One of these, as already announced, has been commissioned by Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki, President of the Organising Committee.
The others are to be undertaken by, respectively, the universities and the city’s technical chamber.
Spyros Capralos, the HOC President, believes that the combined result of the three studies will be to provide a definitive cost-benefit analysis of the Games.
“Finally we will have the full picture of the finances of the Games,” Capralos told insidethegames.
Cost estimates have ranged far and wide – from upwards of €5 billion (£4 billion/$7 billion) to as much as €15 billion (£12 billion/$20 billion) – depending on which expenditure and revenue items are included.
The battle to secure a demonstrably positive legacy from the Games has been made harder by Greece’s broader economic problems.
The country endured more than 20 consecutive quarters of economic decline, starting in 2008, with the economy shrinking some 25 per cent over this period.
It was forced in 2009 to seek two bailouts worth €240 billion (£190 billion/$320 billion) from the European Union and International Monetary Fund.
This article was republished with permission from the author, David Owen. The original article was published in Inside the Games and can be viewed by clicking here.