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Θέμα: Olympic Games 2004: Τώρα ζητάνε συγγνώμη

(nil): Nikos Tsekhs (ntsek(@)
Ημερομηνία: Παρ 27 Αυγ 2004 - 11:23:33 EEST

Επειδή το άρθρο ειναι στα αγγλικά (και ειναι η πρώτη φορά που στέλνω
κάτι στα αγγλικά αλλά αξίζει το κόπο), σας αποζημιώνω με την εικόνα ...
απείρου κάλους.

Στο πνεύμα ... του ωραίου, του μεγάλου και του χορηγού!

Ann Killion | To the people of Greece: We apologize


San Jose Mercury News

ATHENS - The Greeks could sue for defamation of character. They could
demand an apology from the world. Instead they just shrug and order
another frappe.

Their Olympics are going beautifully. Just like they expected. After
all, they invented this business.

For years, we heard how miserable these Olympics would be, how
dangerous, how choked with traffic, how polluted, how unfinished. After
just a couple of days, some observers turned in an instant thumbs-down
on the Games. No atmosphere. No crowds. The horror - gymnastics wasn't
even sold out!

Such rips are ridiculous. For one thing, you can't judge the Olympics
until they start. And, in reality, the Athens Games didn't start until
Friday, when track and field got under way.

Olympic atmosphere comes from 160,000 people streaming into the park
every day. And that can only happen when track starts. Until then, the
Olympic park seems deserted even with 30,000 people inside it.

Saturday night, the upper bowl of Olympic Stadium was filled with
rippling blue and white Greek flags and fans cheering for runners and
discus throwers. The roar of the crowd rose into the Athens night. You
couldn't convince anyone there that these Games have no atmosphere.
So far these Games get a huge thumbs-up from this corner. And not just
because I set my personal bar so low - my goal was to come home alive. I
swore I wouldn't whine about slow buses or hot weather.

I'm still alive and feeling sheepish about all my worries. The
heightened security is evident but not oppressive. The fear-mongering
has dissolved into a happy Olympic atmosphere where Canadian fans wander
around in togas and olive wreaths drinking Mythos beer. The Games aren't
over, but so far, Athens feels very safe.

And there hasn't been much to whine about. The buses run on time. The
taxis are cheap. The phones work. Even the weather has cooperated, with
temperature mostly in the 90s during the days, but not the 100-plus heat
that had been advertised.

Are they as great as the Sydney Summer Olympics, which drew rave
reviews? So far, they're not far behind (and gymnastics wasn't sold out
there either - not everyone loves the little pixies as much as Americans).

The scene at Darling Harbor was terrific - but the crowded cafes of the
Plaka, in the shadow of the Acropolis, are almost as lively.
Are these Games as great as Barcelona, which I didn't attend but many
veteran Olympic writers say is their favorite? They're not far behind -
and they're beating Barcelona in ticket sales.

And how do they compare to Atlanta? There is no comparison. The United
States hosted the worst Summer Olympics of the modern mega-Games era.
Everything people feared would happen here actually did happen in
Atlanta: There was a bombing, the buses didn't run on time, the computer
system didn't function, the crowds were suffocating and the weather was
oppressive. Greece, the smallest country to host an Olympics in 52 years
and one of the poorest countries in the European Union, is outperforming
the world's super power.

On Saturday, Athens was abuzz. The efficient new metro system was packed
with fans heading to every venue. Inside the Olympic park every event
except trampoline was sold out (and you're not going to hold it against
the Athenians if they don't support trampoline, are you?).

On Friday, 244,144 fans went to 47 events. Ticket sales have reached 3.2
million - close to the target of 3.4 million - and they're not done yet.
The fact that most Athenians were on vacation until last week is part of
the Games' new energy.

Not only were the Greeks underestimated, their capital city has been
mistreated. For those of us who haven't been here before, Athens is a
surprising delight.

Yes, it's crowded and poorly laid out. But it has dazzling historic
sites around almost every corner, restaurants and bars that stay open
until almost dawn, and wonderful, gracious hosts.
It also has a terrific coastline along the Saronic Gulf. A new tram runs
along the water, and Saturday it carried both Olympic spectators and
sunbathers. The beaches were packed and Athenians bobbed in the
sparkling water.

The first eight days have been a success. I told my cabdriver how
impressed I was.

"Of course," he said and shrugged. What did you expect from the folks
who came up with idea in the first place?

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