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  • Athens Searches for Spectators


    08/17/04

    The swimming venue for the Athens Olympics has been one of the exceptions for low attendance figures. (ATR) 
    (ATR) With sell out crowds at some events and near empty stands at others, Athens organizers are struggling to fight the perception that the Games are a bust with the Greek public.

    One of the former leaders of Sydney?s Olympics tells ATR the crowds in Athens are a disappointment, while broadcasting executives say they are capturing row after row of empty seats and very little excitement measured by cheers and applause in the grandstands.

    The extremes are great: 15,000 filled the hall in Helliniko for the men?s basketball match between the U.S. and Greece, while earlier in the day in the same arena, 180 fans came to watch a preliminary match with New Zealand and South Korea.

    Along with the absence of spectators at some events, there also is a seeming lack of buzz within the city of Athens for the Games. There are no central gathering points such as a medals plaza. Even the Coca-Cola sponsored pin trading center is located far from the city center in one of the coastal venue complexes which has been plagued by events with low turnout.

    Greece still has something to cheer about: two gold medals so far in unexpected events, synchronized diving and judo. Team competitions featuring Greece, such as upcoming baseball games, a truly foreign sport to the country, are sold out.

    More on the Athens Olympics in the August 18 issue of Around the Rings, for subscribers only.