Greeks getting ready to welcome the worldThe 2004 Athens Olympic Games will be an opportunity to explore Greek history and culture as well as the surrounding nature, said Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki, 49, the president of the 2004 Athens Olympics Committee.
Ms. Angelopoulos-Daskalaki, who was appointed to her current position in May 2000, is the first female head of an Olympic organizing committee in the 100 years of modern Olympic history.
Ms. Angelopoulos-Daskalaki was born on Crete in 1955 and studied law at Aristotle University in Thessaloniki, the second biggest city in Greece.
She launched her political career in 1986 when she was elected Councilor in the Municipality of Athens. She was twice elected Member of Parliament in the Athens first Region Constituency for the New Democracy Party, in November 1989 and in April 1990.
In 1996, Ms. Angelopoulos-Daskalaki was appointed president of the Athens 2004 Olympic Games Bid Committee. When Athens beat Rome as the host city of the 2004 Olympic Games, she became a national heroine.
Ms. Angelopoulos-Daskalaki is married with two sons and a daughter, and enjoys skiing, jogging, cycling and smoking Cuban cigars.
Q.Please explain the significance of having the Olympics this year in Athens, where Western civilization was born.
A. Just as the Seoul Games were an opportunity for Korea to show the world both the ancient traditions that define Korea and the dynamic, modern nation you have become, so the Athens Games will show two sides of Greece.
The Olympic Games are one of Greece’s great gifts to the world. The Athens Games will be a celebration of our extraordinary history and an opportunity for the world to learn about Greece’s many contributions to Western culture.
The Athens Olympic Committee has long been proud of the homecoming of the Games. It has therefore put much emphasis on the “human scale.”
Our emphasis on a “human scale” was central to our successful bid in 1997, and has been part of our planning and preparations since the very beginning. Human scale means a return to the fundamental values that have always defined both the ancient and modern Olympic Games. It puts the athletes at the centre of our preparations, as the embodiment of the ideals that unite us all: peaceful competition, the pursuit of excellence, and our common humanity. ...
In addition, we are bringing the Games back to their ancient roots ― to Olympia, where the shotput will take place in a stadium almost 3,000 years old; to Marathon, where runners will trace the course followed by the herald who announced the Athenians’ victory at the famous battle; to the Panathinaiko Stadium, where the Games were reborn in 1896.
As a mother of three children, you have worked as the president of the Athens 2004 Olympic Games Bid Committee in 1996 to the head of ATHOC now. How have you managed all this?
The hardest part of my job is the time away from my family. Once the Games have been successfully concluded, spending time with them will be my first priority. In the meantime, I try to make every moment count, working as quickly and as efficiently as I can, and reserving time for my family.
I am fortunate to have a tremendously talented team at Athens 2004 who have helped make this endeavour a success. Even more important, I have the complete support of my family, who understand that this is a critically important opportunity for the country we love.
by Kim Jong-moon