April 18 2014

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.

"ΠΩΛΕΙΤΑΙ - ON SALE," Olympic Wrestling Hall, Ano Liossia, Athens, Greece.

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 OAKAcaused the premature abandonment of the shooting, rugby, softball and hockey grounds, venues of sports with few to no local fans.

Olympic Sports Complex OAKA, Athens, Greece.

Aquatic Centre, OAKA, Athens, Greece.

 Tennis Open, OAKA, Athens, Greece

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.

Chris Christou

Chris has a Master's degree in Water Resources Science and Technology from the National Technical University of Athens. He started studying Mining Engineering and Metallurgy, but later on he concentrated his bachelor studies on Environmental Engineering, Waste and Water Management. During his late academic years he participated in environmental technology research projects. He is from Athens, Greece. His family, which consists mostly of civil engineers and architects, descends from the well-known stonemasons of the island of Santorini. Today he divides his time between Varkiza, a south-coast suburb of Athens, and Pagrati, downtown Athens, which he considers his home. Growing up in this central neighborhood he was able to witness the various changes in the city throughout the years. Observing his urban surroundings and influenced by his family, from an early age he became concerned about the urban environment. An inquisitive and creative person, he enjoys walking around the centre of Athens on quests for new or hidden details. Blogging for The Global Grid will be an opportunity to discover, highlight, and study the present state of environmental design in Athens, including potential outlets to improve the Athenian urban life.

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This entry was posted on Friday, April 18th, 2014 at 9:43 am and is filed under Architecture, Chris Christou, Community/Economic Development, Government/Politics, Infrastructure, Urban Development/Real Estate, Urban Planning and Design. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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