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Olympic Games Study Shows Athens 2004 a Champion

Every city to have hosted the modern Olympic Games inherited improvements in infrastructure, Olympic installations, facelifts, tourism promotion and a better environment through greater green spaces, says a survey by the international consultancy company Jones LangLalle.

Athens emerged from the study as the champion in new infrastructure. Besides the 16 new permanent sports venues, projects included the new Eleftherios Venizelos Airport, portions of the Attiki Odos and the Hymettus ring road; Kifissos Avenue and the Faliron junction; the suburban railway; the tram and, partly, the metro.

On the other hand, Athens gets low marks on its facelifts. Programs by the City of Athens and the Public Works Ministry for changing the look of blocks of flats on central avenues and squares, unifying archaeological sites and pedestrianizing the city’s historic center may have been positive initiatives, but were not enough, says the study.

Athens, it says, has missed its best chance to rebuild its relationship with its natural frontier, the sea, and become a greener and friendlier capital for its people. Notably, the pre-Olympics plan of 2000, according to proposals made then by the Public Works Ministry and the Athens Regulatory Plan Organization, provided for the host city to plant millions of new trees and bushes, of which less than 10 percent actually materialized, as all green projects were essentially considered to have been simply decorative in character.

However, most cities to undertake the staging of the world’s greatest show already had some installations ready beforehand: Athens was the sole city to virtually build entirely new sports venues to host the Olympic Games.

The government’s program for the utilization of the installations provides for them to maintain their public character, while also stressing that cooperation with the private sector is essential.

The program foresees the creation of culture and sports venues with supportive commercial uses that will render them centers for recreation and for the development of their surrounding areas.

Olympic Properties is proceeding with inspections of the installations and the arrangement of any issues outstanding, while tenders are being put out for “mature” installations, such as the Aghios Cosmas sailing center, the Badminton Center, the Canoe-Kayak Slalom Center and the International Broadcasting Center.

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