Friday, April 6, 2012
On April 6, 1896, the first modern Olympic Games— Games of the I Olympiad—open in Athens, Greece, the birthplace of the ancient sporting ritual. However, the games almost do not take place because of Greece’s troubled economy and political instability. Just two years earlier, it comes out that the price tag for hosting the Olympiad would be three times greater than originally thought, putting the event in jeopardy. A successfully appeal to patriotism of the Greek public, however, results in the raising of enough funds to go ahead. Athletes from 14 nations join with the biggest delegations come from Greece, Germany, France, and Great Britain. The games do not return to Greece for another 108 years, when Athens hosted the 2004 Summer Games.
Today, because of Greece’s dire economic situation and severe austerity regime, the country has had to cut back on funding to its Amateur Athletic Federation (SEGAS). This sparked rumors earlier in the week that the country cannot afford to pay Olympic coaches or training staff and may have to miss the London Olympic Games this summer. On Thursday, the government refuted this report and said that Greece would send 100 athletes to London, as reported by Athens News. “I am witnessing SEGAS misinform the international press with a bogus report, namely, that the Greek teams will not go to the Olympics. The Greek presence at the Olympic Games will be exceptional,” said Sports general director head Panos Bitsaxis.