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Last Updated: Wednesday, 30 March, 2005, 19:26 GMT 20:26 UK
Greece lays out post-Olympic plan
By Richard Galpin
BBC News, Athens

The closing ceremony at the Athens Olympics
Most of the Olympic venues have remained closed since the games
Greece has finally announced how it plans to use dozens of sports venues built or restored for last summer's Olympic Games in Athens.

In its long-awaited announcement, the government confirmed on Wednesday that none of the venues would be sold off.

Instead the plan is to lease the majority of them to the private sector.

Having spent a record sum of at least $12bn (6.4bn) on the games, Athens is under intense pressure to prove it was all worthwhile for Greek taxpayers.

Most of the venues have remained closed since the games ended six months ago.

According to documents given to the BBC, the basic construction work for more than 30 venues cost more than $3bn.

And now just maintaining them is costing the state more than $100m a year.

Yet until now the authorities have not had any serious plan for how such a large number of venues can be put to good use, as the Olympics themselves become little more than a distant memory.

Sports facilities

It has now been announced that many will remain as sports facilities, with some extra commercial activity allowed, such as restaurants, cafes and theme parks.

But others will be fully converted into conference centres, museums and academies.

The government insists plenty of Greek and foreign investors are interested in bidding for the leases, although officials admit some venues will be difficult to shift onto the private sector.

One Greek property developer told the BBC the government strategy was all wrong, and that it must sell some venues and use the money to subsidise those likely to remain in state hands.

Otherwise, taxpayers will continue forking out just to prevent once pristine Olympic venues from crumbling, he says.


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