The environment, one of the three pillars of
Olympism since 1994, was not a big winner at the Olympics. But
Greece has arguably left a strong legacy in terms of sustainable
The physical legacy of the Olympics in Athens
includes brand new multipurpose sports facilities, transport
infrastructure (including a new airport, an underground system, a
fast ring road and gas-powered buses), the regeneration of coastal
areas and the conversion of the Olympic Village into over 2,000
It is hoped that the air quality in Athens will improve markedly
given that the improved road system will mean less slow,
pollution-generating traffic. In addition, there was no tradition
of recycling in Greece before the Games. In a bid to change that
culture, a green bin/blue bin recycling system was introduced along
with a major advertising campaign.
The Commission’s involvement mainly came in the form of the
investigation of complaints about the Olympic Games infrastructure.
None of the projects submitted to environmental impact assessment
procedures was deemed to have had negative environmental effects.
Greece is set to benefit from a total of 25bn euros of EU
structural aid over the period 2000-06. Some of this money will
have been used in such projects as the construction of the tramway
and the metro.
The most controversial complaint centred on the Olympic rowing
and canoeing centre at Schinias-Marathon. A Commission official
confirmed that, following the Commission’s intervention, the Greek
authorities had included Schinias-Marathon in their national list
of proposed sites of Community interest, in line with Directive
92/43/EEC. This means the project is included in the Natura 2000
ecological network, designed to ensure that the site’s wildlife
value would be protected in the future management of the