Athens here we come


Peter Bentley on the Greek Olympics; and the plans for the sailing venue look good
Amidst reports of chaos in Athens and dissatisfaction among the International Olympic Committee on progress with the facilities for 2004, sailing looks as if it might be one of the few sports to escape the worst horrors of Greek mismanagement. The proposed site of the sailing venue is some eight miles south of the city centre and away from the worst of the congestion and pollution. The current plan is to build a marina for the 400 competing sailors on the coast adjacent to the existing International Airport. The ambitious plan is to redevelop this airport into a national park, once the new international airport, to the north of the city, is fully operational. Judging from the plans shown on the official Olympic website (www.athens.olympic.org/en/), the Aghlos Kosmas Olympic Sailing Centre should be nothing short of spectacular. The only problem is, nothing is under construction as yet. Currently, a partly completed breakwater sticks out into the sea and that's about it. There is of course nothing new in this. Sydney was no different. With three-and-a-half years to go, the Australians had identified Rushcutter's Bay as the venue and designated the sailing courses both inside and outside the harbour. No other facilities were in place. Barcelona was just as bad with the concrete lorries still pouring out their loads just days before the regatta was due to begin. The site in Savannah was never really finished. In Athens the issue is further complicated by internal divisions within the organisation and rumours that the Greek government is still at odds with the Olympic Organising committee on the preferred location for the sailing events. More complication comes in the form of huge logistical difficulties and a lack of basic infrastructure in the city. Transport and pollution are two issues that look set to plague the

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