Athens 2004. Ten Years Later the Olympic Infrastructure, the Cultural Olympiad and the ‘White Elephant’ Syndrome
Panagiota Papanikolaou

It is now ten years since the Athens Olympic Games in 2004 and questions remain as to how the Greek government has dealt with the Olympic legacy. It is true that the everyday life of the inhabitants of Athens has improved to an unprecedented degree as a result of the mandatory infrastructure projects that were carried out, for example with regard to means of transportation, the rehabilitation of urban areas, and the environment. Furthermore, it was generally acknowledged that the Games were a great success. However, the construction projects carried out to meet the sporting needs of the Games, as well as the cultural projects built as part of the Cultural Olympiad, are still the subject of intense public concern because of the apparent lack of a timetable for properly valuing and managing these projects for the benefit of the wider public. Ten years after the Olympics, it seems that some of these projects, although necessary to the organisation of the Games, were disproportionately large for a country the size of Greece. Some of the venues were particularly expensive and are now very difficult to maintain, while others remain unused and are becoming derelict. This problem is exacerbated by the present unprecedented economic crisis and has resulted in severe criticism, with people openly talking about a post Olympic Greece suffering from the ‘White Elephant’ syndrome.

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