Posted by Editoress on 08/11/04
First Notes from Athens
I am "on the ground" in Athens - too late today to have seen or talked to any of the Canadian cyclists, with the exception of Sue Palmer-Komar, whom I met in the airport, collecting her bikes after her flight.
So far, the organization appears to be a mixture of ultra-efficient and slightly out of control. For example, customs, immigration and accreditation was so fast it left you feeling that something must be wrong. We were then put on special buses (driving down dedicated lanes on the roads) for the drive into town.
Things reverted to normal at this point - the bus got stuck in a toll booth when the barrier wouldn't rise, then we got all the way downtown on the way to our various hotels to find that the centre of the city was closed for cyclist training on the road course! This left a dozen cranky, tired journalists cooling their heels in a hot bus for two hours. I managed to get a cab driver that talked his way across the course, but still arrived too late to see any of the training. A friendly photog was kind enough to supply a photo showing the new Canadian national team jersey.
Traffic will likely prove to be a problem - it already is two days before the Games actually start. As mentioned above, there are special lanes for Olympic vehicles (the fine for unauthorized vehicles driving in these lanes is 160 euros), but that doesn't help at intersections.
The press room has . . . dial-up internet connections. There are a LOT of unhappy photographers, who will be resorting to internet cafes (as am I right now) in order to send out images.
It is hot, and very humid, with no relief in sight.
Tomorrow I get to spend hours lining up for photo bibs and other access material...
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