London's Evening Standard: London should avoid the '' Athens 2004 legacy''

Article published on Feb. 5, 2011
community published
Article published on Feb. 5, 2011
''An Evening Standard investigation has uncovered Olympic venues which remain unused and barred to the public just five years on — in a stark warning for organisers of the London Games.
On the day Mayor Boris Johnson and Olympics minister Tessa Jowell announce a new company to “secure a lasting legacy” in the wake of London 2012, the size of the task that confronts them is obvious — if the Athens experience is anything to go by.''

This is how, Evening Standard's article started about the London 2012 Olympic Games and the lessons that they have to learn from the Athens experience.

Athens set high standards for the Olympics, since it's amazing Ceremonies were both sophisticated and state of the art. Many argue that Beijing four years later didn't manage to surpass the doric beauty of the Athens Ceremonies. However, Athens had another lesson to give: that you have to prepare the future use of the Olympic venues long before you build them. 

After a research made by the Standard, it was unveiled that most of the 2004 venues are in disrepair. The overall image captured by the British newspaper is an image of abandonment: weeds in the walkays, graffiti vandalisation and litter everywhere.

Their walk at the Athens Olympic Complex, once the heart of the 2004 Games was shocking: fountains switched off, drained water from the diving facilities, bird droppins, graffiti and plastic bags everywhere.

Furthermore, the newspaper investigated the Hellinikon facilities which now is a wasteland. The authorities announced in 2001, when the Eleutherios Venizelos Airport was opened, that Hellinikon would be the biggest park in Europe. Instead of the park, athletic facilities were built for the Olympics which now seem empty and left. 

How this happened? The authorities say that the facilities are working but nobody ever visits them.

“They got the Games in 1997 but then only started building three years before. They wasted three years doing nothing but arguing and nothing got done. Nobody had a plan for the legacy. There was no unified structure. It's a big mess really.”

Today, Mr Asimakopoulos and other Greek officials say to London : Avoid our mistakes and prepare the facilities the day after the Games are over.

Its a pitty that Athens didn't learn from the Barcelona Games, despite the fact that major urban projects took place. A new airport, 2 metro lines, tram and beautification of the city explain the multi billion bill that Greeks paid for the Games. However, miscalculations and mismanagement didn't allow the city to gain profit from its Olympic legacy long after 2004, which is only 7 years behind.. 

Read the full article and investigation from Evening Standard here.Photos are from Evening Standard's website and newsbeast.gr