2024 is an Olympic Year, with the Paris Summer Olympics already causing ripples worldwide. One year short of its own “silver jubilee”, the 2004 Athens Olympic Games had an inauspicious event to mull over: the Olympic Stadium roof – a landmark designed by Catalen architect Santiago Calatrava – was declared unsafe as of dubious structural stability. The maintenance of the Calatrava roof, an intricate web of steel tubings and glass, was grievously neglected, to the point of making the whole structure hazardous. The stadium was declared off-limits to any sports events for at least one year. This brought to the surface – and to the attention of Greece’s own media soon followed by their international colleagues – the state of neglect and disrepair in which the 2004 Olympics venues had fallen. Which brought back to public attention the vivid debate that had arisen around the promise, the expected benefits and the overall fallout of the Games.
In a book of Nelli Kapsi & Eleni Beneki, titled The Business of Olympic Games Sponsorship that was published by KERKYRA Publications-economia PUBLISHING in May 2004 – that is three months before the Games started – a wide range of factors was discussed about the economic forces brought into play in the Games.
A major business sector that was expected to benefit from the run-up to the 2004 Games was construction – both the part that had to do with building the sports venues, but also bringing road, airport and overall transportation infrastructure.
Which brings us to the mishap of the Calatrava stadium roof of the main Olympic Stadium – a symptom of the overextension of efforts due to the time, costs and image pressures.
Nelly Kapsi is a journalist and had contributed regularly to Oikonomiki Epitheorisi (Financial Review) since 2000.
Eleni Beneki is a historian who has published numerous articles and monographs on the history of economics, Greek shipbuilding, sports and the Olympic Games.