Don't worry, be happy

Finally, somebody who knows what he's talking about when it comes to the Olympics and security pointed out the obvious. Peter Ueberroth, the director of the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, said that concerns about the Athens Games being targeted by terror groups would not be borne out.

"I believe the Athens Games will be a good Games, and that there will not be any major security incidents," he told reporters at a Manhattan function showcasing New York City's bid for the 2012 Games. "(Terrorism) relies on cowardice and an element of surprise. Athens is ready, so that takes away the element of surprise."
When Ueberroth was asked about the possible consequences of construction delays, smog, sunstroke, earthquakes, the position of the moon and a butterfly sneezing in China, he said, hey forgetaboutit, the Greeks have a handle on chaos. They invented that word, didn't they?

Posted on April 15, 2004 in Current Affairs, Olympics | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Apollo, come and light my fire

040325_torch.jpgMore than 10,000 spectators, including athletes, officials and the media, gathered at Olympia today to witness the lighting of the Olympic flame. In a recreation of the ancient Olympic ceremony, Thalia Prokopiou, a Greek actress playing the high priestess, used a steel mirror and summoned the ancient god of light Apollo to do his bit and bring the flame to life at the Temple of Hera.

The lighting of the flame marks the start of the Olympic Torch Relay. The Olympic flame, in the hands of 3,600 torchbearers, will be taken to 34 cities around the world and will include, for the first time, stops in Africa and South America. You can follow the progress of the Olympic Torch Relay and learn more about the places it stops at along the way on the Athens 2004 website.

The day of the this ceremony was chosen to coinside with the date the first modern Olympics opened in Athens in 1896. It also falls on the same day as Greek Independence Day and the Feast of the Annunication. Which means that parades and parties will take place today, in Greece and around the world.

Posted on March 25, 2004 in Culture, Olympics | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Celebrity Olympics

Angelina Jolie

Angelina Jolie is the first high-profile celebrity to accept an invitation to be a torchbearer of the Olympic Flame in the final stage of its international relay around five continents. In her acceptance letter to organizers Jolie wrote that "I would consider it an honour to run with the Olympic torch as a gesture of hope for refugees and to express my active support for sport and world peace" and noted that "the preferred time for me to run would be 1800 or 1900 hours."

Jolie starred as Lara Croft in the Tomb Raider action movies, the second of which was partially filmed on the Greek island of Santorini. In the fall she will be seen in Oliver Stone's swords-and-sandals epic Alexander.

Posted on March 5, 2004 in Entertainment, Olympics | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Please feel secure

A Newsweek headline for a report on the 2004 Olympics declares that "The Athens Games will be the biggest – and most expensive – peacetime operation ever." The story cites than $825 million (US dollars) have been budgeted for security, more than three times the amount spent for the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Australia.

Greece has been working with security experts from Australia, Britain, France, Germany, Israel, Russia and the United States to anticipate terrorist scenarios and improve security measures. More than 50,000 security personnel will be deployed around Athens, the U.S. Sixth Fleet will be on standby in Greek waters and NATO may send troops to Greece for the duration of the games.

Athens Mayor Dora Bakoyianni says that "we're paying the price for September 11." Athens 2004 will be the first summer Olympics since 9/11. Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki, head of the Athens organizing committee is making sure that crews will scrub and spruce up the city so that it "won't look like a military zone."

Posted on March 3, 2004 in Current Affairs, Olympics | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

You gotta have faith

040301_jrogge1 Reuters reported early last week that International Olympic Committee (IOC) chief Jacques Rogge was confident that organisers of the Athens Olympics would have everything ready to welcome the world's athletes, media and spectators for the August 13-29 games. Speaking on Tuesday, the opening day of a meeting of the world's national Olympic committees in Athens, Rogge said "in the most categorical way that the International Olympic Committee surrounds the Greek effort with absolute confidence."

By Friday Rogge had become more guarded in his public assessment of Olympic preparedness in Athens, saying that it remains uncertain whether the games will be a success, according to this Associated Press story. "There's still a lot to do -- we have only five and a half months," Rogge said. "Our experts say if the pace and the rhythm of the work continues, there is enough time to finish in due time."

Fox Sports writer Peter Wilson wrote that Rogge voiced even greater concern in private IOC circles during his visit to Athens. Rogge told about 30 members of the IOC at a private breakfast on Friday that "there are serious question marks over the Athens Games and those question marks will remain right until the closing ceremony." Wilson, the only member of the media at that breakfast meeting, was there because an invitation intended for IOC's Ted Wilson was delivered by mistake to Peter Wilson's hotel room. Wilson's story includes a mini history on preparations for the first modern Olympic games, held in Athens in 1896, that shows Greeks are creative improvisers at crunch time.

Posted on March 2, 2004 in Current Affairs, Olympics | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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