Name Of The Games - Money

by Harry Papachristou

ATHENS, July 29 (AFP) - Officials hope next month’s Athens Olympics will attract scores of foreign tourists and investors to Greece in the coming years, helping the country recoup its sizeable investment in the Games.
The Games are about putting Greece in the mind of the world,'' said Greek Deputy Finance Minister Petros Doukas, a former investment banker with US credit giant Citibank. But such hopes have failed to materialise so far, while Olympics-related expenditure has tarnished the country's recent, hard-won reputation for fiscal rectitude. The Greek economy has put nearly eight billion euros (10 billion dollars) - more than 5 percent of the country's annual gross domestic product (GDP) - into the August 13-29 Games. More than six billion euros of taxpayer money were spent by the government on new stadia, roads and security for Games' visitors. Private firms are estimated to have forked out another 1.5 billion euros, as businessmen, particularly in services, spruced up their enterprises - from overhauling hotels to rejuvenating the Greek capital's cranky taxi fleet. We estimate that successful Olympic Games can attract an additional 450,000 tourists by 2011.
This in itself can add 1.1 billion dollars, or 0.6 percent of GDP a year to the Greek economy,'' said Fanny Palli-Petralia, Greece's Deputy Culture Minister who is in charge of the Olympics. Tourism accounts for around 15 percent of Greek GDP. More than ten million tourists visit the country each year, but an unwholesome mix of stagnating European economies, terrorism fears and Olympics-related construction delays that spoiled the country's image smashed Greeks' dream of busy pre-Olympic tourist flows. ''(Commercial) exploitation of the pre-Olympic period was lost... it is our duty to exploit post-Olympic opportunities,'' Petralia said after figures showed 2004 tourist arrivals dropping by as much as 5 percent compared with the previous year. Frantic Olympics-related construction is estimated to have boosted Greece's GDP - currently at 4 percent a year one of the eurozone's highest - by around 0.2 points over each of the past three years, according to a study by the state-run Centre for Economic Plannning and Research (KEPE). But the end of the Games could signal the end of the boom. Business confidence among Greece's hitherto pampered construction companies fell for the fourth month in a row in June, according to a survey by Greece's Foundation for Economic and Industrial Research (IOBE). IOBE's confidence index fell to 105.8 points - 35 percent below its peak from March 2000. And doubts are raised about the some 40 Olympic venues' financial sustainability. The new infrastructure could be a positive legacy, but it may be associated with a debt overhang that could take many years to pay off,’’ accountancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers said in a report.
After years of efforts to put Greece’s finances on a sound footing in the run-up to eurozone entry, Olympic-related payments caused the country’s budget to go deep into the red again.
Greece’s public deficit for 2003 breached eurozone budget rules and the European Union formally put the Greek economy under surveillance.
Post-Olympic maintenance of the Games’ nearly 40 venues could cost more than 100 million euros a year, according to a government-commissioned study by the university of Thessaly.
Greece is the first Olympic host since the communist-run 1980 Moscow Games to finance the Games entirely out of state funds.
Personally speaking, I would definitely have involved the private sector in preparations through public-private partnerships,'' said Doukas, criticising Greece's previous socialist government which lost office in Greece's March 7 general election. The country's new conservative government hopes to arrange with businessmen long-term leases and equity sales in the venues after the Olympics. Apart from the business volume to be created by visitors during the Games, estimated by KEPE at around 7 billion dollars, Doukas said that the Games will benefit Greece's private sector in the long run. Greek firms have acquired the capacity to finish big projects,’’ he said.
But only a few construction companies have so far translated this new-found experience in new contracts won abroad. Instead they apparently prefer to invest in new sectors, mainly energy and property development.

Sizeable investment? That’s one way of putting it!
Another way to put it is MASSIVE DEBT.
How the IOC continues to get sucker cities to line up, in the face of mounting evidence of financial disaster for previous hosts, is beyond me.
Bringing in private investors after the fact puts those investors in the driver’s seat: “Give us the venues at our price (you suck up the debt) or we’ll walk.”
Just ask Montreal, which has suffered from impure water for 28 more years, as the Olympics sucked up all the cash that could have cleaned it up, and an infrastructure that is crumbling almost as fast as the shoddy Olympic venues.
Canada’s now going for the “hat trick”. (Hosting three Olympics without a Gold Medal- something no other nation has been able to do even once).
As good hosts, it would be impolite to hog any medals from our guests. We know that Vancouver plans to be a good host cause the bid contained absolutely nothing- not one red cent- for athlete development.

You are so right Charlie… I may be a little off the topic thread but I can give you an example of the “brilliance” of the Canadian sports system …
Athens will again be an Olympics where Canada sends more delegates (read cocktail party hounds) than competing athletes.
Vancouver 2010 is not looking much brighter… athlete development would start yesterday but in their brilliant carding system (in your book you wrote so well about this topic), the # 1 in the world men’s & women’s skeleton teams, for example, are not fully carded (6 spots for 8 athletes) & NO development cards. So you can be top 10 in the world & not have $1 in gov. support.
The majority of the team is set to retire after 2006 & there is no support for those trying to make 2010. The whole system is set to implode just in time to host the Olympics at home… NICE!
But I’m sure Vancouver will have great cocktail parties!

Don’t underestimate the training required for the cocktail circuit. In this case, Canada is in full swing. While the sporting pessimists among us may worry that the athlete’s glass is half-empty, this is one case where you can be sure the glass will be full before it is emptied.
With an Official to Athlete ratio ABOVE one to one (!) for Athens, our officials are in full training and should be in peak form by 2010. While our team will implode by 2010, their livers should hold out till after 2012.

That’s too funny. Though I do believe we got hosed at the '76 Olympics for reasons that came to light when Germany was reunified.

It’s sad watching the decline of Canadian sports. What’s scary is I’m not even sure the general public in this country care. We’re more worried how our flag bearer voted in the referendum than the results of the events themselves.

I mean how many Canadians can name even one member of the track and field team?

What is amazing is every 4 years Canadians say… “why don’t we win more medals” when you see the inner workings (oxymoron here…sorry) of the Canadian sport system you ask “how the hell did we win THAT many??”
Australia is a great example that a small nation (population, not goegraphical size) can have a strong sport system but you see so many past Canadian champions & Olympic medalists, running that system for them.
Alex Bauman, Olympic champion swimmer, wanted to move back to Canada & applied to one of our governing bodies for sport & he didn’t even make the short list (probably because a book he wrote on sport stated that he would first fire all of the beaurocratic fat in the system). This is a guy who has been in the Aussie system for years & could help bring it here
With so many talented & driven athletes, it is sad to see us lose so many to the BS of a system that doesn’t work.
My soap box is now creaking under the weight on my shoulders!!! Sorry for the blithering on guys…
Shoula been a stripper.

Never wise to telegraph your moves! It is unnecessary to point out that an organization with over 900 full time employees to service the needs of only a couple of hundred athletes is in need of surgery. Even the dumbest shit can recognize that a pyramid has its base on the bottom!
You start cleaning up this feculent mess, by passing the word that the deadwood is going to be “trimmed”. Then sit back and watch as all the useless twits start looking into their severence packages and pension options. No need to identify the slothful, they’ll identify themselves.

Further on this topic, several years ago, Athletics Canada advertized for a Speed Power Coordinator. Olympic Champ, Mark McKoy; World Champ Bronze Medallist, Atlee Mahorn; and Former World No One High Jumper, Milt Ottey all applied but were rejected as not qualified. (I better stop, I’m starting to get worked up!)

Don’t stop…we seriously learn a lot off of you when you’re angry.

On a more positive side… god bless the amazing athletes who have risen (& are rising as we speak) above this crap to perform so brilliantly.
And with no help from the beaurocrats who then pose for pics with them after they win gold!