25 August, 2003
Preparations for a truly Olympian “homecoming” next year on Saturday shifted to ancient Olympia, in the northwest Peloponnese, with visiting Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis emphasizing that the government aims to enhance and project Hellenism’s “cultural aspect” on the occasion of the 2004 Olympic Games.
Simitis led a high-level government delegation to the inimitable valley where the Games were held during antiquity to outline an ambitious series of projects and works to upgrade the entire region, including the renovation of ancient Olympia’s noted museum, which will be transformed into an “Olympic Games” museum after the ongoing work are finished.
“In a year the Olympic Games will be taking place in Athens, and Olympia will be at the centre of the international limelight. These Games of 2004 include a uniqueness that Olympics usually don’t retain – Games showcasing the history of the Olympics. They demonstrate the relationship between Greece and the Games, and also that the Games are intertwined with the history of humanity, something particularly evident here in Olympia,” Simitis told reporters while touring the site.
A budget of 97.6 million euros also includes significant roadwork projects – bypassing the ancient site, of course – as well as renovation of nearby sports facilities and practically the entire infrastructure in the greater Olympia area – one of the pre-eminent and most popular archaeological sites in Greece.
“... that is why our effort is not just focused on sports facilities or even just the sports event (Olympics), but it is focused on reforming and showcasing culture as well, to renovate sites and, of course, to improve citizens’ environment,” he added.
A nine-kilometer section of a new highway, bypassing the actual site, is expected to be completed by May 2004, officials announced.
Source: Athens News Agency