Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Olympia Ruins Where London Torch Will Be Lit

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Olympia Ruins Where London Torch Will Be Lit

Article excerpt

Byline: Miranda Bryant in Olympia

SEB COE and officials from the International Olympic Committee arrive at the Greek town of Olympia tomorrow to light a flame that will be carried to London.

Stunning new stadiums and facilities await the world's athletes and sports fans for the 2012 Games.

But a few yards from the site of the temple where it all began 2,800 years ago, children play on an overgrown railway platform because their sports centre has been left to crumble.

The country which hosted the Games in 2004 is in the grip of an economic crisis with Left-wing party leader Alexis Tsipras today trying to form a government based on ripping up the terms of an IMF bailout deal. Such, say residents, is the legacy of their Games. Christos Efstathopoulos, 45, a bakery owner, said: "Why are the sports facilities broken? Because we don't protect our things because there are people, many young, who look to break things and when we see them we don't do anything about it. We let them do it."

He said many Greeks believe the economic and political crisis in the country started with the Olympics, adding: "The Olympics is one of the reasons we have this crisis. All the places that have the Olympics they don't make as much money from it as they think they will.

Now there are places in Athens that are unused." However, he said: "Olympia is rich in spirit, the spirit of the Olympics is alive."

Manos Marroulis, 21, who grew up in Olympia said: "The sports facilities could be much better. There is a basketball stadium that only opened a year ago but it is only open for Games, otherwise it would be broken because people don't respect it.

"The football pitch needs a service every three or four years but they haven't done it. They make something and then they leave it. People don't respect sport facilities because they don't have enough education." Staituis Pozaskeuophela, 37, who has worked at the Aegean Restaurant in Olympia for 17 years and lived in the area all his life, said he has never seen it so quiet for a torch lighting ceremony. …

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