News / Europe

Greece Blames Olympics for Stoking Debt Crisis

A padlock hangs outside the Tae Kwon Do and Handball stadium at the Faliro Coastal Zone, near Athens, August 8, 2005.A padlock hangs outside the Tae Kwon Do and Handball stadium at the Faliro Coastal Zone, near Athens, August 8, 2005.
x
A padlock hangs outside the Tae Kwon Do and Handball stadium at the Faliro Coastal Zone, near Athens, August 8, 2005.
A padlock hangs outside the Tae Kwon Do and Handball stadium at the Faliro Coastal Zone, near Athens, August 8, 2005.
Henry Ridgwell
ATHENS - As London prepares to host the 2012 Olympic Games, Athens' experience eight years ago could offer some sobering lessons. Many of the facilities now lie overgrown and empty. Many Greeks - and even the head of the International Olympic Committee - say hosting the 2004 Olympics contributed to the country's debt crisis.

The Olympic Park is one of the few quiet places in Athens.

The birdsong is occasionally interrupted by the sound of ships’ horns from the adjacent Aegean Sea. There are no cars and no people.


Eight years on from 2004, Athens’ Olympic Park is abandoned, overgrown, closed to the public.

The fencing arena is now a rusting warehouse.

The canoe slalom course was built at a cost of millions of dollars, with water pumped from a manmade lake. The lake is dry; pipes lie discarded on the edge of the park.
Manolis Trickas is a councilor of the Athens suburb Hellenikon next to the park. He laments what he calls the waste of the 2004 Olympics.
 
He says it was all about consumption in order to capitalize on the Olympic phenomenon and create advertising spots to sell products. Unfortunately, he says, the Olympic Games were catastrophic for Greece.

The head of the International Olympic Committee, Jacques Rogge, told a Greek newspaper last year that the Athens Olympics aggravated the country’s debt problem. The government estimated the cost at $11 billion.

But that did not include other projects commissioned or accelerated in time for the 2004 Games - including a new metro and tram system, a new airport and highway.

On the edge of the Olympic Park, former members of Greece’s 2004 softball team train for their next match. Greek-American Louisa Sharp was an official scorer in the Athens Games. She says the Olympic facilities should be saved.

“They’re very, very beautiful, very expensive, and it’s sad that somebody can’t turn that around and even make a profit," said Sharp.

Sharp says the legacy of getting children involved in sport is also fading.

“It did pick up momentum prior to and through the Olympics and a little afterwards,  she said. "But things are economically a little bit difficult, and I think parents have turned their children more towards academic sources [for later in life].”

The government wants to sell the Olympic Park to private companies. Several firms have expressed interest, including a firm from Qatar, who wants to turn it into a huge casino with a hotel and an airport for private jets.

Local councilor Manolis Trickas has other ideas. He and a team of local residents have begun planting olive trees. A small grove has begun to take over part of the park.
He says that during this period of financial crisis, cultivation is a solution, even with these small crops, to stave off hunger. "We believe that accumulating money will not help us out of this kind of crisis, but a network of solidarity will support us.

London is preparing to host the 2012 Games at a cost of $14.3 billion. The people of Hellenikon say the experience of Athens should act as a warning of a failed Olympic legacy.

You May Like

Australia-Cambodia Resettlement Agreement Raises Concerns

Agreement calls for Cambodia to accept refugees in return for $35 million in aid and reflects Australia’s harder line approach towards asylum seekers and refugees More

India Looks to Become Arms Supplier Instead of Buyer

US hopes India can become alternative to China for countries looking to buy weapons, but experts question growth potential of Indian arms industry More

Earth Day Concert, Rally Draws Thousands in Washington

President Obama also took up the issue Saturday in his weekly address, saying there 'no greater threat to our planet than climate change' More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Alex N from: New York
June 02, 2012 8:54 AM
I worked the Olympics in 2004.I have worked some 35 large scale international sporting events for a major news outlet. 2004 was very poorly run. Only the massive amount of EU funds at the time kept it from being a train-wreck. Sure, with the very low expectations the fact that there was no catastrophe made them look like a relative success, but Athens was the worst managed run international sporting event I have ever seen.
And I am not anti-Greek, my grandparents were from Greece.

by: bert dunsford from: Sydney
June 02, 2012 4:42 AM
The idea of hosting the Olympics is a con, all it does is line the pockets of a few i.e. the IOC. I say can it and if the IOC wants to hold it let them pay for it, what a freaking con!! All it does is cost the host country money which in most cases they cannot afford.

by: BJ from: Los Angeles
June 01, 2012 5:32 PM
Why not return the Olympics to their birthplace? The infrastructure is in place, it just needs to be renovated. If Greece hosted the Olympics every four years it would be a huge boost to the Greek economy. The setting and the weather is perfect. Why keep moving it around and wasting money of every country that hosts it to build stadiums, etc.? Return the Olympics to Greece where they belong in 2020.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?i
X
Steve Sandford
April 17, 2015 12:50 AM
Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Military Action to Stabilize Libya

Thousands more migrants have arrived on the southern shores of Italy from North Africa in the past two days. Authorities say they expect the total number of arrivals this year to far exceed previous levels, and the government has said military action in Libya might be necessary to stem the flow. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Putin Accuses Kyiv of ‘Cutting Off’ Eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual televised call-in program, again denied there were any Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. He also said the West was trying to ‘contain’ Russia with sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports on reactions to the president’s four-hour TV appearance.
Video

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.
Video

Video Xenophobic Violence Sweeps South Africa

South Africa, long a haven for African immigrants, has been experiencing the worst xenophobic violence in years, with at least five people killed and hundreds displaced in recent weeks. From Johannesburg, VOA’s Anita Powell brings us this report.
Video

Video Sierra Leone President Koroma Bemoans Ebola Impact on Economy

In an interview with VOA's Shaka Ssali on Wednesday, President Ernest Koroma said the outbreak undermined his government’s efforts to boost and restructure the economy after years of civil war.
Video

Video Protester Lands Gyrocopter on Capitol Lawn

A 61-year-old mailman from Florida landed a small aircraft on the Capitol lawn in Washington to bring attention to campaign finance reform and what he says is government corruption. Wednesday's incident was one in a string of security breaches on U.S. government property. Zlatica Hoke reports the gyrocopter landing violated a no-fly zone.
Video

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Badly Burned Ukrainian Boy Bravely Fights Back

A 9-year-old Ukrainian boy has returned to his native country after intensive treatment in the United States for life-threatening burns. Volodia Bubela, burned in a house fire almost a year ago, battled back at a Boston hospital, impressing doctors with his bravery. Faith Lapidus narrates this report from VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko.
Video

Video US Maternity Leave Benefits Much Less Than Many Countries

It was almost 20 years ago that representatives of 189 countries met at a UN conference in Beijing and adopted a plan of action to achieve gender equality around the world. Now, two decades later, the University of California Los Angeles World Policy Analysis Center has issued a report examining what the Beijing Platform for Action has achieved. From Los Angeles, Elizabeth Lee has more.
Video

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.
Video

Video Sidemen to Famous Blues Artists Record Their Own CD

Legendary blues singer BB King was briefly hospitalized last week and the 87-year-old “King of the Blues” may not be touring much anymore. But some of the musicians who have played with him and other blues legends have now released their own CD in an attempt to pass the torch to younger fans... and put their own talents out front as well. VOA’s Greg Flakus has followed this project over the past year and filed this report from Houston.
Video

Video Iran-Saudi Rivalry Is Stoking Conflict in Yemen

Iran has proposed a peace plan to end the conflict in Yemen, but the idea has received little support from regional rivals like Saudi Arabia. They accuse Tehran of backing the Houthi rebels, who have forced Yemen’s president to flee to Riyadh, and have taken over swaths of Yemen. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA, analysts say the conflict is being fueled by the Sunni-Shia rivalry between the two regional powers.

VOA Blogs