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The Athens 2004 Olympics Site Is Being Left To Rot 10 Years After The Games
"We simply made the biggest mistake in our history."
The people of Athens were promised that hosting the 2004 Olympics would leave them an inspiring legacy, but exactly ten years on, the Olympic site lies empty, left to decay in the Greek heat.
The 2004 Games became the most expensive there had ever been after the original budget doubled to around £7 billion.
Not long afterwards, Greece was crippled by the global financial crisis. With the country’s economy nose-diving, the idea of maintaining the costly venues was abandoned.
According to Reuters, many Greeks now look back on the Games in anger, and see little to celebrate about the anniversary.
Eleni Goliou, who runs a grocery store in Athens, told the news agency: "Celebrate for what? They spent money they didn't have — our money, taxpayers' money — on a big party. You see any money left for a celebration?”
Former weightlifting champion Pyrros Dimas, now a Greek politician, claimed the country failed to take advantage of the momentum built up in 2004, Associated Press reported.
“We simply made the biggest mistake in our history: We switched off, locked up the stadiums, let them fall to pieces, and everything finished there,” he said.
“We spent a lot of money for some projects [that] are shut and rotting. There were projects that should have cost two and three million [euros] and suddenly became so big that they cost 13 and 14 million. There was no control.”
Dimitris Mardas, economics professor at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, told Reuters: "It was a waste of money and all for show. It cost a lot."
He pointed out that unlike most Olympic hosts, officials in Athens decided to build permanent structures rather than the collapsible versions seen at Games such as London 2012.
However, Greek Olympic committee head Spyros Kapralos maintained the Games were a boost for the country, because infrastructure created 10 years ago might otherwise never have been built.
He also denied claims that the 2004 Olympics played a part in Greece’s debt crisis, which resulted in two huge bailouts.
"They cost €8.5 billion. Was the €8 billion to blame when Greece owed €360 billion?" he told Reuters.