Ten Years After the Athens Olympics: A Review
Long story short, Athens 2004 Olympic venues are for sale. In March 2014, Hellenic Republic Assets Development Fund (ADF) acquired several new properties; among those the Olympic Equestrian Centre, the Olympic Rowing Centre and the Galatsi Indoor Hall.
A decade after the Athens 2004 Olympics, the bliss has faded away and the Olympic venues, with their robust architecture, are tributes to their fifteen minutes of fame. The return of the Olympics to their birthplace cost €9 billion but bequeathed Greece infrastructure and a list of Olympic properties to exploit .
By the end of the Olympic Games, while the Greek government was announcing ominous forecasts about the country's economy, Olympic Properties S.A, the agency in stewardship of the venues, had started collecting data in order to manage the development of the properties.
Five years later, bureaucracy and an entangled administrative system have turned the properties management into a rat race. Managment efforts resulted on certain legal issues that only property owners could resolve and not the administrative agency; at which point a quest of the title deeds started. Olympic Properties S.A. addressed three different state offices accountable for public properties, but the efforts were futile. In 2011 many of the proprietors still remained unidentified.
Until today, most of the development plans were cancelled, unfulfilled or stuck in the mud due to delays on licensing. Investors of delayed projects have started requesting compensations for lost revenue.
Located near city's hubs, filled with expensive equipment but postponed development plans, facilities like the Taekwondo Hall, Canoe-Kayak Slalom, Beach Volleyball Stadium and Galatsi Indoor Hall are falling into decay. Olympic Sailing Centre is a peculiar case; pending legal matters between the state and the current contractor of the venue may become obstacles to the realization of nearby Hellenico Park Project. The Olympic attractions can be described today as Olympic distractions.
Open to the public – not profitable nonetheless – the Rowing Centre is a part of a park, the Weight Lifting Centre has become a University Campus and the Boxing and Wrestling Halls are being used by local sports clubs. The Olympic Equestrian Centre is preserved in a surprisingly good condition, with its location considered suitable for investing in touristic attractions. Badminton Stadium is already a popular theatre, yet struggling with financial issues. The only profitable Olympic property so far is "Golden Hall," the former International Broadcast Centre which has been turned into a shopping centre.
As a result of the economic crisis and athletic budget reductions, the neglect of popular venues, like the Olympic Sports Complex OAKA, caused the premature abandonment of the shooting, rugby, softball and hockey grounds, venues of sports with few to no local fans.
In a country in crisis, like Greece, what options are there? Should the state rescue the Olympic properties offering its citizens a chance to raise the degraded living standards or should it abandon the venues to foreign speculative hands?
Credits: Images by Valia Stavrianidi. Data linked to sources.