August 01, 2008
Most Greeks don't care about the Olympics in Beijing.
At least that's what you can gather after reading this story from the AFP.
I can't say that I'm very surprised.
As I've mentioned before, I worked for NBC during the 2004 Games in Athens, and I saw first-hand how much effort the Greeks put into staging the event.
There was a genuine sense of pride amongst all Greeks that their country had been chosen to host such an event. Everyone was excited; from the guy who drove our bus to work everyday, to the woman who worked in the gift shop ... all anybody wanted to talk about was the Olympics.
Now, it's a different story.
"It makes sense that spirits are lower this time round," says Serafeim Kotrotsos, the former spokesman of the Athens 2004 organizing committee who now works for Greek daily Eleftheros Typos.
"These are not our Games...and the recent doping cases have cooled interest among the Greek public," he told AFP.
If I learned anything about the Greeks it's that they are extremely prideful people. They are proud of their country and their heritage, so I'm not surprised to see that interest is down for these Olympics; there aren't many Greeks who have a shot to medal.
More than anything though, I think the Greeks are still burned out after expending so much energy to put the Games on. There was a lot of talk leading up to the Athens Olympics that the facilities would not be ready in time. In fact I can still remember seeing workers scrambling around, trying to put the finishing touches on different projects before the opening ceremonies began.
The Greeks pulled everything off though, and the Games went off without a hitch. I still don't think the country gets enough credit for the job it did hosting the Olympics, and my guess is that that still bothers a lot of people in Athens.
Compounding the lack of interest is the fact that some of the multi-million dollar facilities that workers killed themselves to construct on time, now sit empty. The buildings serve as a constant reminder of the amount of money it took to host the Olympics, and cost millions of dollars to maintain.
At some point down the line I'm sure the Greeks will get back into the Olympic spirit, but give them a few more years, I think they need a longer break.