What is so self-observed? The writer's assertions that 21 out of the 22 facilities are laying in a state of abandonment or ruin is flat out wrong, and can be proven just by doing some quick research to find out which sorts of events have been held in these facilities recently.
Savas and myself described many of these uses in our posts. Uses such as the Olympic Stadium being used for domestic soccer league matches (home field for two teams in the Greek Super League, Panathinaikos - www.pao.gr - and AEK Athens - www.aekfc.gr), track meets (like the Tsiklitiria meet, part of the IAAF Golden League - http://www.tsiklitiria.org/) , and concerts (Shakira and Pearl Jam in recent years among others, Bjork a couple of months ago - http://www.ekathimerini.com/4dcgi/_w_artic...0/05/2008_97189 -, Madonna in a few weeks - http://www.ticketpro.gr/ -). The OAKA also held the UEFA Champion's League final in 2007: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ljz6N9bAtWA...feature=related
The OAKA basketball stadium is the home court for Panathinaikos - www.paobc.gr - and AEK - www.aekbc.gr - in the Greek first division of basketball, and recently held the FIBA Pre-Olympic Qualifying Matches (http://www.athens2008.fiba.com/), as well as the Eurovision Song Contest in 2006. It is also the home court for the Greek National basketball team.
The velodrome recently hosted the Greek Cycling Championships (photos here: http://apolisports.blogspot.com/2008/06/gr...ship-2008.html). And here is a list of events held there recently (unfortunately only in Greek): http://www.oaka.com.gr/articles_list.asp?e...mp;e_cat_id=324
The tennis center is still in use, here's a list of tournaments held there recently (unfortunately only in Greek): http://www.oaka.com.gr/articles_list.asp?e...mp;e_cat_id=325. It is also used by the Athens Tennis Academy: http://www.athenstennisacademy.gr/eng/gallery.html
The aquatic center is still in use as well...list of recent tournaments, again only in Greek: http://www.oaka.com.gr/articles_list.asp?e...mp;e_cat_id=342. The outdoor pool is open to the public as well. http://www.e-tipos.com/newsitem?id=47588
The Peace and Friendship stadium is still in use and is the home court for Olympiakos BC (basketball) - http://www.olympiacos.org/#/Basketball/TrainingCenter/SEF/ - as well as for conventions and exhibitions, a list of which can be found here: http://www.sef-stadium.gr/index.files/Page1937.htm
The Hellinikon basketball stadium is now the home court for Panionios BC in the Greek basketball league: http://www.panioniosbc.gr/index.asp?a_id=90. The stadium has also hosted numerous concerts and conventions, including Iron Maiden, the Athens Tuning Show, the Tourism & Property Show, the Woman Show and many others: http://www.e-tipos.com/newsitem?id=47588
The baseball field at the Hellinikon complex has been converted to a football pitch and is the home field for Ethnikos FC in the Greek second division: http://www.sport.gr/default.asp?pid=96&...64&cid=2216
The Canoe-Kayak facility at the Hellinikon complex recently held the Greek canoe-kayak championships, and will be converted to a waterpark, as the facility has already been handed over to a private consortium, including J&P AVAX, GEP, Corfu Waterparks and BIOTER. This waterpark will be part of the larger plans to turn the entire Hellinkon property, which was once Athens' international airport, into a metropolitan park. http://www.e-tipos.com/newsitem?id=47588, http://www.ekathimerini.com/4dcgi/_w_artic...3/08/2007_86425.
Karaiskaki Stadium is the home pitch for Olympiakos FC: http://www.olympiacos.org/#/Football/Train...ter/Karaiskaki/ and has hosted domestic and Champions League matches continuously since 2004 and has also held concerts and festivals (including the fly beeyond festival and a concert with Massive Attack, also seen in the link above). It has also served as the home field for the Greek National football team: http://www.karaiskaki.gr/hellas_gr.asp. Even more information about the facility is here: http://www.karaiskaki.gr/events_gr.asp
Kaftanzoglio Stadium in Thessaloniki is the home pitch for Iraklis FC in the Greek Super League: http://www.iraklis-fc.gr/swift.jsp?CMCCode=0202&extLang= and http://www.kaftanzoglio.gr/activities2.html. Last year, it was also the temporary home field of FC Apollon Kalamarias, another football team in the Greek Super League, whose original stadium is under reconstruction - http://www.apollonkalamariasfc.gr/pae/agon...storia-2007.htm.
The Pancretan Stadium in Iraklion is the home pitch for OFI FC and Ergotelis FC in the Greek Super League: http://www.ofi.gr/game.aspx?game_id=185, http://www.stadia.gr/pankritio/pankritio-gr.html, http://www.ergotelis.gr/ergotelis/frontend...amp;option=form. It also held the Greek Cup final in 2006.
The Panthessaliko Stadium in Volos will be the main stadium for the Mediterranean Games of 2013 (http://www.medgames.net/) and hosted the Greek Cup final in 2007 and has held local football games, track meets, concerts and conventions. Is also the home field for Niki Volou in Greece's second football division. http://www.e-tipos.com/newsitem?id=47588
The Panpeloponisiako Stadium in Patra held the Greek Cup final in 2005, held the Greek football All-Star Game in 2008, and has held local football games, track meets, concerts and conventions and recently also held an international friendly match with the Greek National football team. It is also the home field for Panahaiki in Greece's third division. http://www.panachaiki.gr/site/index.php?op...9&Itemid=66, http://www.e-tipos.com/newsitem?id=47588
The Faliron Complex has become the Athens International Convention Center, and has hosted, amongst other things, concerts by Morrissey, Isaac Hayes, Antonis Remos (popular Greek singer), political gatherings, trade shows like the Athens Audio Visual Show, and performances such as "Peter Pan on Ice":
The Goudi Olympic Complex has become the Badminton Theater, one of Athens' most modern theaters and concert halls. It will be hosting West Side Story in September, and has hosted numerous theatrical productions, including Mamma Mia. http://www.badmintontheater.gr/
The Beach Volleyball Stadium has held concerts, and has recently been turned over to a private company, S.K. Pazaropoulos, which plans to turn it into a 21st-Century version of Athens' historic "Lycabettus" theater. http://www.e-tipos.com/newsitem?id=47588. It is under conversion and is scheduled to be completed by 2009. Here is one event that was held in the stadium after 2004: http://www.olympicproperties.gr/events_gr....e=27&id=295.
The Olympic fencing hall in Peristeri has been partially converted, featuring a football pitch and hosting gymnastics competitions. http://www.e-tipos.com/newsitem?id=47588
Agios Kosmas Sailing Marina: has been turned over to the private company Seirios A.E. and will be turned into a world-class marina (with room for close to a thousand yachts), and will be part of Athens' revitalized waterfront, which also includes a new theater, library and concert hall that will be designed by world-renowned architect Renzo Piano: http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=206...&refer=muse, http://www.olympicproperties.gr/contents_gr.asp?id=317
Athens Main Press Centre (MPC): has been converted to the new headquarters of the Greek Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, and the amphitheater contained within has hosted numerous ceremonies and public events: http://www.olympicproperties.gr/contents_gr.asp?id=256, http://fe-mail.gr/pages/posts/greece_europ...e_world2293.php
International Broadcast Center (IBC): has been turned over to a private corporation, Lambda Development, which is turning it into a shopping mall and retail center which will be known as the "Golden Hall," with 146 retail spaces. Part of the IBC will become the Greek Olympic Museum and the International Museum of Classic Athletics. http://www.lamda-development.net/online/Pr...mp;PageCounts=1
Olympic Weightlifting Hall in Nikaia: has hosted fencing competitions since the Olympics, however, it has now been turned over to the University of Piraeus, which it will use for lecture halls and classroom space: http://www.unipi.gr/anak-ekd.php?prkaID=1279
Markopoulo Shooting Range: has been turned over to the Hellenic Police Force, and will be the site of its police training academy and the headquarters of the Special Forces division of the Hellenic Police. http://www.olympicproperties.gr/contents_gr.asp?id=317 and http://www.olympicproperties.gr/contents_gr.asp?id=258
Olympic Rowing Center in Shoinias: is part of the Shoinias National Park, and is one of only three FISA approved training centers in the world, the other two being in Munich and Seville. http://www.olympicproperties.gr/contents_gr.asp?id=317. The 2008 FISA European Rowing Championships will be taking place here in just a few weeks, 18-21 September: http://www.worldrowing.com/display/modules...p?eventid=35081. Though this facility did indeed lie unused for a while, it has been completely reconstructed by the Germany company Hochtief, and is in full use today. http://www.e-tipos.com/newsitem?id=47588
Olympic Equestrian Center, Markopoulo: Is now the headquarters of the Greek Equestrian Federation, as well as Greece's Horse Racing competitions (which relocated from an old facility in Faliron after the Olympic Games). A European Equestrian Competition was held here from July 9-13, 2008: http://www.hunterjumpernews.com/?p=5148. Here are some domestic events that have taken place there this year: http://www.olympicproperties.gr/events_gr....e=18&id=312
Ano Liosia Olympic Hall: has been leased out for various uses over the years, including the filming of the Greek version of the Reality TV show "So You Think You Can Dance." According to this article (http://www.e-tipos.com/newsitem?id=47588), the facility is in excellent shape. In September 2009, it will become home to Greece's new Academy of Culture and the National Digital Archive. http://www.olympicproperties.gr/contents_gr.asp?id=266
Olympic village: 2,292 apartments were sold to low-income individuals and today the village is home to over 8,000 residents. It is suffering from some problems, most notably lack of frequent public transportation, but it is fully in use and was turned over to residents immediately after the end of the 2004 Olympics. http://www.e-tipos.com/newsitem?id=47588
Galatsi Olympic Hall: After the Olympics, this was the home court of AEK BC in Basketball. http://www.stadia.gr/galatsi/galatsi-gr.html. AEK has since moved back to the OAKA complex (its home court before 2004) and the hall has been turned over to a private consortium, Acropol Haragionis AE and Sonae Sierra SGPS S.A. It is now being converted to a shopping mall and entertainment complex, scheduled to reopen in 2009. http://www.olympicproperties.gr/contents_gr.asp?id=253
And again, this is just how the Athletic facilities have been used. In the leadup to the Athens games, numerous huge public works projects took place that transformed the city of Athens and the quality of life of its residents and visitors alike:
Athens Metro: Used to be comprised by one line, the "ilektrikos" running north-south from Piraeus to the northern suburbs of Athens. The ISAP was completely revitalized before the games, and two new Metro lines were added to it, in time for the 2004 Olympics. However, the metro continues to expand to this day, with the planned addition of a new line and further expansions of existing lines, with some metro stations having been completed in the past few years and added into service. More information here: http://www.ametro.gr/page/default.asp?la=2&id=7 and photos of this project, including the spectacular stations (which resemble museums more than train stations) here: http://www.ametro.gr/page/default.asp?la=2&id=14
Tram: Completed just before the Olympics, the tram continues to be a vital part of the transportation network of Athens, connecting regions that do not have Metro service to the city center and the port of Piraeus. http://www.tramsa.gr, http://www.tramsa.gr/map/googlemapstram.html. The tram was recently expanded to the southern suburb of Voula, and there are other planned expansions, including 11 new stations in Piraeus: http://www.tramsa.gr/html/gr/diadromes.php?id=4.
Proastikos: The suburban railway connects the City of Athens with the new international airport, the northern coast of the Peloponese and cities like Korinthos, and is under expansion to reach cities like Kiato and Halkida. http://proastiakos.gr/en/ and http://proastiakos.gr/en/?getwhat=1&oi...;id=&tid=53
Athens International Airport "Eleftherios Venizelos": Completed in 2001, it is an ultra-modern airport near the town of Spata, outside of Athens, which replaced the old and outdated airport at Hellinikon. Earlier this year, the airport welcomed its 100 millionth passenger. It has won numerous awards, including "best airport in Southern Europe" in 2005 and 2006, European Airport of the Year in 2004 and Green building of the year in 2008 (for its environmentally friendly design). It is also one of only a few airports that is capable of accommodating the new Airbus A380. In the years since the Olympic games, numerous new airlines have begun routes to Athens, including US Airways, Continental Airlines, Air China, and Aer Lingus, and the amount of passengers handled has increased in each year since starting its operations. There are plans to expand the airport's capacity and a convention center is being built at the airport as well.
Attiki Odos: a new motorway, completed in 2004, linking initially the new Athens International Airport with the city and outlying regions like Elefsina, connecting it to Greece's main national motorways heading south from Athens to Peloponissos (Korinthos, Patra, etc.) and north to Thessaloniki. It acts as a ring road around the city, diverting traffic away from the city center and helping to reduce traffic and pollution. Plans were recently announced to expand the Attiki Odos south within the city of Athens, to the southern suburb of Vouliagmeni, and to Athens' secondary port town of Rafina and the industrial town of Lavrio. http://www.express.gr/news/politics/35654o...8060335654.php3, http://www.aodos.gr
Converting Athens' historical center to a pedestrianized zone: The main historical sights of central Athens, including the Acropolis, the Ancient Agora, the Kalimarmaron Stadium (site of the original Olympic games), etc. were all connected and made easy for pedestrians to access, as roads that were previously open to traffic were closed off and converted to pedestrian walkways. There are plans to expand the pedestrian walkways to other parts of central Athens, including the main throughfare of Athinas Avenue, which travels north from Monastiraki (just below the Acropolis) to Omonia Square in the heart of Athens. http://www.minenv.gr/4/44/4401/440102/4401...4401020202.html, http://news.kathimerini.gr/4dcgi/_w_articl.../08/2008_282400, http://www.ekathimerini.com/4dcgi/_w_artic...6/08/2008_99833, http://www.ekathimerini.com/4dcgi/_w_artic...8/01/2002_12350
It is important to note that I am not blindly drinking the Athens kool-aid. There were delays in the usage of some of the Olympic facilities after the games, and some of them are currently not in use because they are in the process of being converted or awaiting final building permits to begin development works. But it is important to note that most facilities ARE in use, and those are not are all slated for redevelopment or are under redevelopment and are close to completion (and many of them were used for various purposes since 2004 as well).
It is also important to note that the improvements and works that took place in Athens did not merely consist of the construction of new sporting facilities, but also all of the infrastructure works mentioned above, all of which are in use in Athens 24-7-365. NONE of the articles written about the aftermath of the games in Athens mentions this fact, and one has to wonder why that is. These projects have all had a tangible effect on the improvement of the city's quality of life, and just as importantly, these projects were not a fleeting, once-in-a-lifetime moment for Athens. As proven by the continued expansion of the metro, rail, tram, highway, etc. systems, these are projects that have set in motion continued and further improvements in the quality of life and the quality of infrastructure in Athens, which the city will benefit from for decades to come.
It seems to me that the Yahoo article, as well as previous articles written about the issue in the British (primarily) press, were the ones based on the observations of certain "journalists" who visited Athens for a brief period of time and tried "visiting" some of these facilities, when it is impossible for every single facility to be open at all times. A lot of their "reporting" also reeks of mudslinging and slander, such as the reported communities of Roma living near the Olympic stadium...they were there before 2004 as well, and they are all over Greece and many other European countries as well...so what? They don't actually live *inside* the OAKA complex, as was seemingly implied by these so-called articles.
There was never a moment at any point after the 2004 Olympics when 21 out of the 22 facilities were not in use. One has to wonder where Mr. Rogers got his figures from. I honestly would not be surprised if they were pulled out of thin air, because I have not seen that number referenced anywhere else. Just as irresponsibly, Yahoo removed the reference to 21 out of 22 facilities, replacing it with "many" without any sort of correction or note in the article that a "correction" was made (even though saying that "many" of the facilities are not in use is also incorrect, as proven above).
The Greek press has been covering the issue of the redevelopment of the Olympic Properties quite thoroughly, including in some of the articles I linked to here. While there has been criticism for the slow pace of the conversion of some of the properties, that coverage has been balanced with coverage of all the facilities that are in use and the facilities which have been successfully converted, as well as those that are under redevelopment at this moment. The international press seems to have lifted the criticism and has ignored ALL of the MANY positives that have taken place. Of course, this does not surprise me, judging by the attacks Athens and Greece continually faced before the 2004 games, which all proved to be unfounded in the end.
It amazes me that I was able to perform research that these so-called "journalists" *should* have performed before taking the liberty to write such inaccurate and slanderous articles of Athens. Websites such as www.olympicproperties.gr go into great detail over the usage of the Olympic facilities, and many of the facilities, from the OAKA to the Badminton Theater, have their own websites. Mr. Rogers is a football reporter, yet he ignored the fact that all of the football facilities and the Olympic Stadium are in use for domestic and international football matches on a club and national team level.
Finally, it is pretty noteworthy that Mr. Rogers seems to immediately assume that every single facility used for the Beijing Olympics will be used, as promised by the Chinese Government (the same Chinese Government that broke a myriad of promises it had originally made to the IOC for the Olympic Games). It amazes me that he wrote the article just days after the games ended, making assumptions that Beijing's post-Olympics development will be more successful than Athens when not even a week had gone by, and by basing his assertion on the falsehoods about 21 of the 22 Athenian facilities being abandoned and "in ruins." That is shoddy, irresponsible, yellow journalism at its worst. It is unfortunate that people like Rogers have the opportunity to influence the minds of millions of people with their lies and falsehoods, when the truth lies elsewhere and can be easily proven. It also amazes me that even when the facts are presented, with references, photos, etc., people still refuse to believe it and continue to put down Athens. Of course, that is nothing new, putting down and insulting Greece should become an Olympic sport at this rate, with how frequently it seems to occur in the press and online. However, the truth is the truth and cannot be changed, and I for one will do whatever I possibly can as one person to refute this garbage "journalism" and these lies about Greece. Greece is not a perfect country, but it does not deserve this treatment by the press, it does not deserve this slander, the Greek people do not deserve this unwarranted coverage and harm to their reputation and abilities. They are insulting, demeaning, and they should not continue.
Finally, comments like this one:
...demonstrate my point about the snide, ignorant remarks that are made at Greece's expense, influenced by articles such as the one by Mr. Rogers, with no basis in reality. I certainly hope that this comment was a joke, because it certainly is very insulting to Athens and to the Greek people.