20 August, 2003
Secretariat for the Olympic Games
Ministry of Culture
1. Reshaping of Athens
The Olympic Games of 2004 provide an excellent opportunity for the aesthetic upgrading of Athens. To this end the Government has allocated the amount of 180 million euros to several projects, in the center of Athens as well as in the main arteries of the city. Furthermore it applies a special plan for the removal of commercial signs from the top of the buildings in the historical center of Athens. So far, 1500 illegal signs have been removed.
A major project for the reshaping of Athens is the unification of the archaeological sites of Athens. The project, a dream for many Greeks, calls for an open air archaeological park, extending from the Acropolis area to the Panathinaikon Stadium. It foresees a network of major cultural landmarks, such as the principal monuments and archaeological sites of the city, interconnected with a sequence of open spaces, a common green space, service facilities and areas designated for cultural activities. The project also includes rehabilitation and maintenance works for the facades of the buildings surrounding the sites. The project has been completed and has been given to the public.
Furthermore, in view of the Olympic Games of 2004, an extended planning programme has been designed and is now under implementation. The planning calls, among others, for converting the old airport of Athens into an Olympic pole for the year 2004, and thereafter into a metropolitan park. It also calls for major interventions in the coastal zone of Athens, which will result in family parks.
2. Sport Venues
On the average, ninety percent (90%) of the sport infrastructure has already been constructed. This includes the Athens Olympic Sports Complex, i.e. the Main Stadium, the Velodrome, the Aquatic Centre and the Indoor Hall. Recently the Government has decided to further upgrade the Complex by assigning to the Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava the unification of the facilities, from a functional and aesthetical point of view.
A number of new sport venues are under construction. These new venues correspond to 10% of the needed sport infrastructure. Some of these venues are the Olympic Equestrian Centre, the Olympic Weightlifting Centre, the Olympic Wrestling and Judo Centre, the Olympic Sailing Centre and others.
Special attention was given to the Olympic Rowing Centre, constructed in the Marathon area. The project complies fully with the environmental constraints of the area (an extended wetland neighbours to the Centre) through the Olympic project and respects in the most adequate manner the historical dimension of the area. In practical terms, a water canal replaces a polluting airport which was operating from over 30 years. The airport has already been closed down and demolished. Through the Olympic project, the natural landscape of the neighbouring wetland (declared as National Wetland) is upgraded.
3. Transport Infrastructure
Thanks to the Olympic Games of 2004, Athens gains an integrated multi-modal transport system. This system builds on existing transport devices, but also includes for a new Tramway. The Tramway, the most popular Olympic project, starts from the center of the city and concludes at the old airport of Athens. A major part of its route will be the coastal line of Athens.
The Athens Metro, the most modern Metro worldwide, is fully operational since January 2000. It has provided significant transport services to the Athenians and the visitors of Athens. Moreover the Metro will support the transport plan for the Olympic Games of Athens in a substantial manner. By the summer of 2004 the Athens Metro will be even longer with three new extensions (10 km in total), which are expected to add 200,000 passengers on a daily basis. Finally the Metro will also be linked to the suburban rail, thus enabling the access from the city to the new airport of Athens, and vice-versa.
In addition, new modern highways are constructed in the wider Athens area and the four other Olympic cities (Thessaloniki, Patra, Volos, Heraklion). These new highways will facilitate transport during the Games and will leave a lasting legacy to Athens and the other cities.
4. The Olympic Village
The Olympic Village is located 23 km to the north of Athens. It consists of 2500 houses hosting 16,000 athletes and officials. The Village is constructed with the use of environmentally friendly materials and bioclimatic techniques through which energy efficiency is achieved. Following to the conclusion of the Games, the houses will be given to the workers thus the project has significant social dimension.
5. Culture and History
The Olympic Games n Greece have a special meaning because they combine modern infrastructure with unique historic, cultural and social aspects. This is clearly demonstrated with the use of Panathinaikon Stadium, a major monument of the city of Athens, for the Olympic sport of archery and the finalization of the Marathon race. The Panathinaikon Stadium was built during the 4th century B.C., was renovated in the 2nd century A.D. and was used for the first modern Olympic Games in 1896.
A major pillar of the Olympic Games of the 2004 is the Cultural Olympiad. The budget allocated by the Greek Government to the Cultural Olympiad accounts for 120 million euros, whereas the programme of the Ministry of Culture includes 100 high level performances and events in Greece and abroad. The main message of the Cultural Olympiad is a Culture of Civilizations.
Special attention is given to Olympia, the birthplace of the Olympic Games in ancient times. One hundred million euros have been allocated to such projects as the unification of the archaeological site, the renovation of the existing Museum, the development of a new Museum for the Olympic Games, the construction of a ring road e.t.c.
6. The Paralympic Games 2004
Two weeks after the Olympic Games of 2004, the Paralympic Games will take place in Athens. 4,000 disabled athletes are expected to participate in the Games. The Government and the Organizing Committee “Athens 2004” have considered that the Olympic and Paralympic Games constitute a major opportunity for improving accessibility in Athens. A major Master Plan has been developed and will be implemented until the year 2004.
7. Olympic Education
A special Olympic education programme has been designed and is already under implementation in all 5,000 schools of the country. For the needs of the programme, 2,000 new teachers were hired and trained accordingly. During the programme, students are taught the history of the ancient and modern Olympic Games, are educated on the Olympic ideals and the Olympic movement and they are exposed to the Olympic sports and their rules. The programme has started in January 2001 and will last until June 2004.
8. Greece 2004
The route to 2004 is not simply a journey for Athens, the host city of the Olympic Games of 2004, but rather a national effort which lasts four years and concludes in August 2004 in Athens. To this end, the Greek Government has designed and is implementing a special programme entitled “GREECE 2004”. The programme aims at the involvement of the whole country in the Olympic preparation through a variety of measures in such fields as infrastructure, sports, culture, education and tourism. The budget for this programme is 1.3 billion euros.
9. Economic impacts
Finally from an economic point of view, the Olympic Games of 2004 will increase the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 1.3% at the year 2004, will improve the ratio of GDP to the national debt, improve the employment opportunities by roughly 30,000 new jobs per year, and will increase the touristic flow to the country by as much as 5% in 2004. The main benefit, however, will be the fact that Greece will demonstrate its capacities to organize in a prominent and authentic manner an event of the size and dimension of the Olympic Games.