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Five years on Athens still saddled with white elephants

Five years after the flame went out on the Athens 2004 Olympics the Greek capital is still saddled with white elephants, organisers said . The President of the Hellenic Olympic Commitee, Spyros Capralos, said that Athens, in many cases, ended up building too many venues without the foresight of having them serve the athletic needs of the country following the Olympics. “As a result many of these venues have been totally abandoned,” Capralos said. After spending approximately 2.2 billion euros on construction to stage the Games, Athens has been criticised for its rush-built venues with no post-Games purpose. Olympic organisers had deliberately positioned many of the venues in run-down areas, hoping their presence would serve to upgrade the areas. But nearly five years after the Games, many of the Athens venues remain fensed-off and boarded up, awaiting private funding to be reopened while the Greek government has spent hundreds of millions of euros on maintenance costs. The venues, which include a 152-million euro rowing centre, 42- million euro canoe, kayak centre a 131-million euro sailing facility, have been under lock and key since the Games. Dozens more such as the taekwondo and weightlifting stadiums have been rented on short-term contracts and used periodically to host concerts, trade shows and festivals since the Summer Games. With a soaring public debt and admissions of irresponsible spending during the preparation of the Olympics with delays, many Greeks are disillusioned with the legacy the homecoming Olynpics has left on their country. But Capralos also said that Athens has benefited from the Games. “There are many works which Athenians benefit from daily due to the Olympics such as the public transportation system, highway network and hospitals,” he said. “All of us Greeks were successfully in promoting our country during the Games but the same cannot be said for the ‘day after,” said Capralos, who served on the organizing committee for the Games. (Earth Times)