Athens: A short-lived legacy

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Athens: A short-lived legacy

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The Olympic Stadium in Athens eight years ago.

A place where Olympic dreams came true. A proud moment in the modern history of Athens.

Images of some of the Olympic venues today though paint an altogether different kind of picture.

In fact most of the former Olympic venues in the city have been neglected and lie in almost complete ruin.

President of the Hellenic Olympic committee Spiros Kapralos said: “Of course opportunities have been lost. The success of the 2004 Games on an organizational level, on a sports level and in general on a communicational level for the country, was lost as soon as the lights of the closing ceremony turned off. And unfortunately, our country, had no plans for what to do with both the buildings and the success.”

Some successful attempts at leasing the venues for entertainment events, exhibitions and conferences followed over the years.

But many other venues remain empty and idle. The country’s debt crisis did nothing to help matters and now maintenance costs are too high for their upkeep.

Greek Athletics federation chief Vassilis Sevastis said: “After the 2004 Olympics we had a series of negative developments in the infrastructure of Greek athletics. They began with huge cuts in funding and were followed by the neglect of the Olympic buildings and training centres that were left, for the most part, to decay.”
London organisers will be hoping to avoid the same fate.

They have already insisted their facilities have been designed to be used economically and often by the residents of London long after the Olympic torch has gone.

But only time will tell if their hopes of a lasting legacy will be fully achieved.