Edition No. 30. Spring, 2002. Today is
 
Athens 2004
13-29 August, 2004
TWOJ was lucky to meet Achilleas Tsogas, a former member of the Greek national judo team and now the Athens 2004 Judo Competition Manager. We seized the chance to find out how he came to be involved with the organisation of the sporting world's premiere event and to ask him about how preparations were going for the next Olympics.

"In 1999 there was an opportunity for people who had an interest in sports to obtain a scholarship from the Greek Ministry of Sport to go and study for a Sports Management master's degree in Australia and work full time as a volunteer at the Sydney Olympics. I was the only person with a Judo background fortunate enough to be successful. As a result I was lucky enough be involved with the Judo and work there for one-and-a-half years. My main project became the organisation of the training sites, as the training site manager, but I was also very involved with gathering and evaluating relevant statistics and as a team we also had to deal with many other things so I gained a huge amount of invaluable experience.

As for preparations for the Athens 2004 Olympics, everything is going well. We have been making full use of the "Transfer of Knowledge" programme, (T.O.K.). In effect, everything that the Australian organising committee did has been recorded and filed and has now been given to us so that we do not have to start from scratch. From the beginning, we can pick up from where the Australian organisers stopped. This is the first time this programme has been used and is a new approach for the IOC. The programme is paid for by the IOC and ATHOG committee and should enable future organising committee's to examine arrangements at previous Olympics and then adjust them to suit their own environment.

Without doubt, all the files on the preparation for the judo and the records of what happened during the last three years in Sydney provide us with so much useful information that we have a real advantage and are probably way ahead of previous organising committees.

In agreement with the IJF we have changed the location of the venue for Judo. The venue is permanent and has been created for sports like judo and wrestling as we have common requirements for our athletes and officials. It can hold about 8000 spectators and the field of play will be 60 metres by 30 metres as requested by the IJF. The spectators seating will start at a height of 2.80 metres from the stadium floor and with a raised fighting area of about one metre the view should be much improved. The wrestling test event will be in June 2002 and the Judo test event will be in October 2002.

Athens is a small city compared with Sydney, so one major benefit at this Olympic is that the judo venue is only in 15 minutes from the Olympic village. It is possible to travel there exclusively by highway without having to go into the centre of Athens. For sight seeing the harbour is about 40 minutes away and the city centre is only 30 minutes away but there are many more places to visit apart from the centre. The closest shopping-centre to the venue is only 10 to 15 minutes away.

The last big highway is now under construction and goes from the airport past the Judo venue to join the other large highway. The judo venue is only 500 metres from this highway and the journey from the airport to the venue is only about 20 minutes.

We are at present trying to get the training site within walking distance of the Olympic village. This will be a great improvement for the athletes as they will not have to rely on transport being provided. It is well known historically that at any Olympics it takes the first few days for the transportation to become fully organised. In Sydney almost one-third Athens 2004 of the teams did not use the training facilities, but in Athens I hope everybody will be able to train there. The training site itself will be similar to that in Sydney, although in a newly built hangar, which will be exclusively for Judo. The 16 mat areas will be laid in one row so judoka will not have to be walking across other mats where training is in progress.

With Athens as the home of this Olympics the European residents will have the advantage of being able to watch the games at a normal time of day, without having a late night or very early morning. Also the Games have been timed to coincide with the national holiday in Greece. If you have visited Athens in August you will have seen that it is almost deserted. The schools are closed, and most of the businesses too. This is a great idea as most of the traffic usually generated by locals will be away and visitors to the Olympics will not have to spend time driving around in heavy traffic.

A new metro has been constructed which has three major lines (there is one more to be added) and there are plans to change the main harbour so that large cruise ships can dock there and act as additional accommodation for the visiting spectators. Suitable accommodation will also be available in many hotels outside of the city and in nearby resorts. There are even very beautiful islands only 15 minutes away from the mainland by ferry where people can stay. It is a wonderful opportunity to have a holiday and enjoy all the beauties of Greece at the same time as experiencing the thrill of the Olympics."

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