LEAVE THE OLYMPIC GAMES HOME!

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""Olympic Games"" – Google News

By Aris Michopoulos, Ph.D.

THE PAST

For over a thousand years (776 BC – 394 AD), the Olympic Games were the most important event in Greece, uniting metropolitan and diaspora Hellenism. We had participants and Olympic champions from different parts of Italy and Sicily, then also called Magna Graecia, as well as from other Greek colonies around the Mediterranean. The most important requirement for participation was the athlete’s Greek origin. In case of doubt, an identity check would be carried out. And we have an interesting case, when King Alexander I of Macedon (ruled 498-454) came to take part in the games, he was asked to prove his Greek identity. So he told the committee that he was a descendant of Perdiccas, who was from Argos and descended from Temenos, the heroic conqueror of Argos, and the committee accepted him as a Greek. And his testimony and evidence has been used in our day to refute the claims of the Skopje propaganda that the Macedonians were not Greeks.

When Greece in 146 BC BC fell to Rome, there were certainly political changes, but not cultural ones. The Romans were aware of the superiority of Greek civilization, the history of Alexander the Great, and Greek advances in all areas of the arts and sciences. So the Roman elite came to study rhetoric at the famous school of Rhodes, and many others attended the various philosophical schools in Athens. Over time, the two cultures merged and created the Greco-Roman civilization, which later evolved into the Byzantine civilization.

The Olympic Games were not affected during this period. The only difference was that participation could possibly have expanded to Roman citizens much later. The first documented case of a non-Greek participant is that of the Roman Emperor Nero. Nero was fluent in Greek and loved Greek mythology and culture. So he visited Greece in AD 67 and took part in the Olympics with a ten-horse chariot, and although he was thrown from his chariot, he declared himself the winner!

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Thus, after Nero’s “victory”, the Games took place for three centuries without serious government interference. However, things changed under later emperors. It was the time when the Eastern Roman Empire evolved into the Byzantine Empire, the main characteristic of which was its Christian identity and the abolition of many pagan elements. And since the Olympic Games were the first and most important religious festival of the Greeks dedicated to Zeus, Emperor Theodosius decided to abolish it by decree in 393 or 394 AD. And a glorious tradition of over a thousand years came to an abrupt and inglorious end.

THE RECENT PAST

More than five hundred years passed without the Olympic Games. But its allure and glamor still captured the minds and imaginations of many athletes around the world and people steeped in Greek history and culture. One of those noble souls who sought to revive the Games was the French Baron Pierre de Coubertin (1863-1937). Pierre de Coubertin wanted to realize his dream and made use of all his means and connections. He found a great supporter for this Herculean task in Demetrios Vikelas (1835-1908), a writer who happened to be living in France at the time. The two joined in their efforts, attracting similar zealots from other countries, eventually realizing their dream with the first resumption of the Olympic Games in their home country of Greece in 1896. In fact, two other extremely wealthy Diaspora Greeks, e.g. Evangelos Zappas (1800-1865) and George Averoff (1815-1899), who made their immense fortune in Romania and in 1896 respectively. We are now in the second century of the new Olympic Games. Greece was fortunate to host two of these games (1896, 2004). In the beginning there was fierce competition between wealthy countries to host the Games. Sometimes they used them as a demonstration of their wealth and power, as was the case at the 1936 Berlin Olympics.

Over time, some of the games’ weaknesses emerged. One of them was that they became costly and many countries, and especially the host cities, complained that they presented a financial burden as an asset. Then, from time to time, other factors would be added, such as the terrorist attack at the 1972 Olympics in Munich. And now we have the case of the coronavirus with the Tokyo games. They were postponed for a year, and when the discussion came up for that year the majority of Japanese were against them. The government insisted on something else and the games will be played with many changes and no audience participation. And the government expects they will fail financially. As a result of all this, there has been a lot of discussion about whether the Games should come back home, that is, to Greece. In fact, this idea had been suggested by the Olympic Committee itself in recent years.

THE FUTURE

As we saw above, the Olympic Games have a history of over two thousand years. They have gone through many changes in the names and sports, race and beliefs of the participants, as well as in their gender, language and culture. We have also recently seen the reluctance of many cities and countries to host the Games and the inclination of the Olympic Committee itself to support their return to Greece. Greece, which was in an economic crisis at the time and had recent memories of the costly Athens Olympics in 2004, did not show much interest in the idea. However, it is time to reconsider this point of view and come up with a cooler and more imaginative solution to the economic problems associated with such a decision.

The main problem in Greece has been the financial burden that permanent Olympic infrastructure will cost the country. It will certainly be in the billions, but we have to look at the problem longer. A thousand mile journey begins with one step. What is a huge amount today will not be such a large amount tomorrow. Inflation always cares about such problems. Just think, Alaska was $ 7.2 million to buy in 1867! And the Louisiana purchase in 1803 was $ 15 million! So Greece could easily put the cost of all the infrastructure it needs in 50 year bonds and deposit the various buildings that are being built and / or the collection from future ticket sales at various Olympic venues, etc., as collateral.

Another way of great appeal could be to erect different buildings, financed by different wealthy countries, using an ancient Greek model. In both Delphi and Olympia, the visitor could see some very elegant buildings built by various wealthy Greek city-states. They usually bore the name “Θησαυρός”, ie Treasury of Athens, Corinth, Knidos etc. And they were the safekeeping of valuable votive offerings and other treasures that were dedicated to the oracle of Apollo in Delphi. A similar concept was implemented in Olympia. We could “revive” this custom and give rich countries a chance to show off their wealth by building various structures for their own use during the Olympics and renting or renting them out to large recreational companies for their non-Olympic years to use. Disney, major hotel chains, and many other similar companies would certainly be interested in such a proposal.

And if the above isn’t enough to tackle finances, we could turn to the international Masters of Financial Engineering on Wall Street who might come up with some new ideas. Even the EEU itself might be interested in hedging a 50-year bond. And let’s not forget Emperor Nero! He was a lover of Greek culture, he spoke Greek, played kithara and loved Greek mythology. There are many billionaires around the world today, most recently over 2,750, and over 20 of them are Greek Americans and another 20 Greeks from the rest of the world. All of them are worth over $ 13 trillion and some of them might be flattered to fund a building or a freeway or any other building that bears their name! And we were able to reward them with an honorary Greek citizenship! Let’s not forget the ancient Greek saying: «Πολλοί τον πλούτον εμίσησαν. Την δόξαν όμως ουδείς »ie“ Many despised wealth, but not fame! ”Let’s not forget that an MIT graduate gave his alma mater $ 400 million to name a building after him. Even if 1% of the billionaires, ie 27 billionaires, show interest in sharing our “dream”, we have solved our problem!

Thus, the financial problem of the games is ultimately not much of a problem when human ingenuity, imagination, magnanimity, and great vision are at work. As for the benefits to Greece and the world, there are too many to encompass in this short letter. This company is sure to transform Greece with its financial, cultural and other results. In the long run it will bring prosperity, political and other stability and raise their profile in the world. It will change their image as a needy country that is constantly in financial trouble; instead it becomes quite a wealthy and respected country like Switzerland and some Scandinavian countries. And that will do the world good too. Many people will combine tourism with the Olympics when visiting Greece and their countries will not have the headache that comes with hosting the Olympics itself. And you will not be afraid to visit the country as it will be one of the most peaceful and safe countries. So it will be a win-win situation for everyone and we should GO FOR IT!
LONG LIVE THE GAMES!

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