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  Nr. 73 - August 2004
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Let the Games Begin!

by Jean Lane-Polyzoides, August 2004
Imagine the crowds on August 15th, multiply by about three and you will have some idea of the number of people who came to Paroikia to see the Olympic Torch being carried through the old town and into the port to be placed very carefully by the last runner into the caldron. It seemed like ten thousand, but I am assured it was only around four thousand.

It was the perfect day, and everything went perfectly. The flame arrived in its Davey lamp by aeroplane at just before 1.30pm, was started on its way by Yiannis Parios – Paros’s most famous singer – and came by truck to nearby Parasporos, followed by many cars full of cheering onlookers. The relay team then took over and from my spot on the corner of Market Street I was lucky enough to see the hand-over to torch carrier Panayiotis Pavlakis who strode out as far as the Health Centre accompanied down the small street with volunteer squad members, all in their colourful orange and blue outfits, and passed the flame on to the last runner who was greeted by tremendous cheering as she approached the podium. She was welcomed by the Mayor, members of the Council and some of the volunteers who had travelled with the torch on its journey from Syros and who would be going on to Naxos by helicopter for the next stage of its journey.

It seemed as if every resident and every holidaymaker had come to witness its arrival and to herald the Olympic message “Pass the Flame, Unite The World”. Boats tooted their horns and everyone shouted and cheered as the flame went into the cauldron. The Mayor addressed the crowd and commemorative plaques were exchanged, the children danced and the band played. Additional celebrations were held throughout the day, including the “Panorama” demonstration of some of the lesser known Olympic sports organized by Alpha Bank.

But by far the biggest cheer went up when the Greek national flag was unfurled and flew high above Paroikia next to the Olympic flag - a wonderfully emotional moment for Greeks and non-Greeks alike.

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Olympic Truce has united nations

reprinted from the Athens 2004 Organizing Committee pamphlet “Pass the Flame, Unite the World”. See www.olympictruce.org.

In 766 BC warring Greek city states resolved to lay down their arms in honour of upcoming Olympic Games, allowing athletes and spectators to get together in peaceful competition. A great tradition was born. In over 1,200 years of ancient Olympic competition, this sacred Olympic Truce known as “Ekecheiria” was fully respected.

Today, Athens and the International Olympic Committee invite humanity to embrace this ancient tradition anew: To utilize sport and the Olympic ideals as a window of opportunity for promoting a better, more peaceful, world.

On 3 November 2003, the nations of the world unanimously resolved to endorse this ancient tradition for the Athens 2004 Olympic Games. During the 58th Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations, 190 member states, a number unprecedented in UN history, co-sponsored a Resolution submitted by Greece urging humanity to celebrate the Games in peace.

In addition to UN support, hundreds of political, religious, sports and cultural leaders from around the world have already endorsed this initiative by signing the International Olympic Committee’s symbolic appeal for the observance of the Olympic Truce during all future Olympic Games and beyond.

At the dawn of the 21st century, the Olympic Truce once again calls upon humanity to lay down its weapons and to work towards building the foundations of peace, mutual respect, understanding and reconciliation.

To that end in July 2000, the International Olympic Committee launched the International Olympic Truce Foundation and the International Olympic Truce Centre, new instruments of peace in our times.

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Tickets can be purchased online, from ATHENS 2004 ticket offices and branches of Alpha Bank. Info from the Ticket Telephone Centre 800-11-2004-2 (toll-free for calls originating in Greece) and +30-210-373-0000 (from mobile phones or abroad). The daily competition schedule outlines the dates and venue locations for the sports/disciplines of the ATHENS 2004 Olympic Games.

There are 28 sports at 35 venues over a period of 16 days, with the exception of football where preliminaries will begin two days prior to the Opening Ceremony. All details at www.athens2004.com.
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