Takashi Nakamura / Marubeni Athens Office
The city of Athens is currently covered in "Athens 2004" signs. In August next year, the Olympic Games will return to its birthplace in Greece. It has been 108 years since the very first Olympics were held in Athens, Greece in 1896.
A lot of construction work is underway throughout the city to build and renovate facilities for the Games and to upgrade public transport facilities including roads and tram services. Yet the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has suggested on numerous occasions that the preparations are running behind schedule. Work on the baseball stadium facilities to be newly constructed on the former airport site near my house (the airport was relocated in 2001 in preparation for the Olympic Games) has only just commenced recently. On April 1 this year, the countdown hit 500 days to go until the opening of the Games. However, whereas we Japanese would look at this and worry about whether 500 days will be enough time to complete all the preparations, the Greeks feel differently, believing 500 days to be more than enough time.
Although the Greek people tend to approach work with the same slowly-does-it, syga syga in Greek, attitude as they do life, when the pressure is on to get things done, they work like nothing you've seen before to make things happen. On a recent inspection visit, the IOC also announced that they were satisfied that the preparations will be completed on time, and that Athens, as the proud birthplace of the Olympic Games, will make ATHENS 2004 a great success.
Naturally, the people of Greece are hoping to win numerous medals at the Games. At the last Games, the Sydney Olympic Games, Greece won four gold medals, coming in just behind Japan's five. At the Athens Games, Greece's athletes are expected to do well in a number of events including athletics, especially the men's 200 meters where they won gold at the Sydney Olympics, and weightlifting, an event in which they have always excelled. (I thought their Sydney win was a fluke but they then went on to win again in the 2001 World Athletics Championships.) So the blue and white uniform, in Greece's national colors, will be the one to watch at ATHENS 2004 alongside our very own red and white national colors.
Marubeni Group magazine "M-SPIRIT" VOL.16 (July,2003)