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The 2004 HO Annual Lecture

                                              What makes an Olympic City?
                   Lessons ans Legacies from the Athens Expereince (2004-5)

Thursday, 4 November 2004


                                                          Ms Dora Bakoyannis
                                                          then Mayor of Athens

Following on so soon after the conclusion of a very successful Athens Olympics, Mrs Bakoyanni’s lecture on What Makes an Olympic City? Lessons and Legacies from the Athens Experience, which was held on 4 November 2004 and chaired by the Director of the School Howard Davies, drew a huge attendance in the Old Theatre of the LSE. Such was the demand that there was an overspill theatre with a live video link.

In her lecture, the Mayor of Athens highlighted the atypical nature of the Athens bid because of the expectations arising from the classical heritage of the Games and the small size of the Greek population and economy relative to other host cities. Mrs Bakoyannis stressed that in the run up to the Games, concern and criticism of Athens’s readiness to host the Olympiad, added to a general anxiety, which was met with the answer, ‘We are going to surprise the world’. In discussing the legacy of the Games, the Mayor indicated that the upgrading of the infrastructure of Athens and other parts of Greece would be of major benefit to the country both as a tourist destination but also in general economic terms and for the citizens of Athens and other host sites. But she also emphasised that the legacy was not restricted to material benefits.

Environmental and planning issues figured high on the Olympic agenda and as such the resulting changes would enhance the quality of day to day life of Athenians and others. More importantly, she pointed out that the biggest legacy of the Games was not only economic benefit or international perceptions of Greece, but that Greeks managed to change their own perception of themselves by defying criticism and holding such successful Games.

The timeliness of the lecture, and its relevance to a cosmopolitan LSE audience and broader London community (aware of its own Olympic bid) was reflected in the extremely lively and broad ranging question and answer session which followed the lecture.





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