Greece / Cyprus

Time for Greece to get tough

I often think about the economic situation Greece currently is going through and how so many people are struggling to get by. So what’s new? Internal and external forces have been exploiting Greece’s resources for thousands of years. Doesn’t anyone think it’s time for Greece to get tough, fight back and once again have a strong economy? Can Greece use its resources to dig itself out of debt? As I think about the problem, I keep going back to all of the museums and private collectors that are holding onto billions possibly trillions of dollars worth of ancient Greek artifacts and antiquities.

This subject has been a hot topic for a while with other countries also looking to have their national treasures returned.  The efforts of China, Italy and Egypt have helped bring much needed attention to the problem but apparently not much has changed.  What I’m proposing is not to have all the items sent back to Greece, at least not just yet.  The larger more important goal is to receive lease payments for everything from the smallest shard of pottery to the Elgin marbles.  Possibly even backdating payments for some of the most controversial and historically significant items.  As much as I’d like to see the antiquities returned, the reason the items shouldn’t be returned immediately is because Greece does not have the money to properly take care of or showcase them.  Things are so bad they are reburying recently discovered antiquities to keep them safe.  I’m sure such a revenue stream would put a huge dent in the national debt if not eliminate it completely.

Also, the London Olympic games are less than 100 days away.  This got me thinking, why not hold the summer Olympics only and always in Greece?  Again, the Olympics are Greek intellectual property and Athens has already built all of the necessary facilities and stadiums.  Every quadrennium the games generate billions of dollars in revenue from broadcast partnerships, sponsorships, ticketing and licensing.  Other than being the first nation to walk during the opening ceremony and the playing of the Greek national anthem, does Greece receive any money from the IOC?  Yeah, I know the games are supposed to bring the world together but the problem is that the Olympics do more harm to the host city than good.  For example, Montreal’s 1976 Olympics left the city with $2.7 billion of debt that it finally paid off in 2005.  Meanwhile, when Athens won the right to host the 2004 games in 1997, its budget was $1.6 billion. The final public cost is estimated to be around $16 billion — 10 times the original budget!

Hosting the Olympics is a catastrophic loss because the huge cost of the games mostly comes from the construction of all the necessary stadiums and facilities.  The three weeks of activities plus the one-week of Special Olympics never end up covering these expenses.  However, if the games were to be held in the same city every four years, in this case Athens, the financial return might be worth all the effort.  This approach would allow Athens to build a sustainable and profitable economy around the Olympics.  The Olympic brand would become associated with Greece, its people and Athens’s identity.  Imagine Greece becoming the global center for athletics and sport!  The climate and natural resources are perfect.  People from around the world could come to Greece to train, learn and meet other athletes.  I’m getting excited thinking about all of the possibilities and opportunities this could create!

In this posting I’ve managed to barely scratch the surface regarding these two topics and I’ve made some broad generalizations.  The point is to inspire ideas and start a healthy debate. Let me know what you think by leaving a comment below.  I’m looking forward to hearing about how Greece could leverage what I call its “intellectual property”.

9 thoughts on “Time for Greece to get tough

  1. Bill Kotamanidis

    April 21, 2012

    Hi John,
    I like your thinking indeed. We all know the urgent need to generate many forms of revenue streams to Greeces economy is paramount to changing the tide of its economy, know and perpetually. Your Greek Olympic suggestion is a very very good one indeed. Whether or not funding can be raised for such an event is yet to be seen at this point, but a very strong compeling case can be put forward to appropriate backers. Not only can we call it Ïntellectual property, but Social and cultural property as well. I noticed you are on LinkedIn site. I am sending you a connect request. As I recall from a movie, “Build it and they will come”. Regards, Baz from OZ.

  2. John Anastasiadis

    April 23, 2012

    Yes, I’m curious to know if anyone in Greece has ever proposed such an idea regarding the Olympics. I’ve been meaning to also write about the possibility of Greece becoming a silicone valley of sorts. Israel is proving that tech could happen in the Mediterranean region. Their tech sector is growing and has created some major companies and products. Greece definitely has the talent, now if only the government would get out of the way and allow growth and entrepreneurial efforts to flourish.

  3. John, i understand your frustration with the current state of the Greek economy and your desire to offers possible solutions. But I’m sorry to say that both of your ideas make little sense. Greece is hundreds of billions of euros in debt. To think that leasing some ancient artifacts will somehow bring in that type of revenue is beyond wishful thinking. It will neither make a dent nor eliminate the debt. And as for your suggestion to keep the Olympics permanently in Athens, my question to you is do you eat the same meal every day or wear the same clothes? Of course not. Keeping the Olympics in the same place every time will get old quick. If you wanted to kill the Olympic Games, that would be the way to do it. The problems that Greeks face are wide ranging and difficult. There are no simple solutions unfortunately.

  4. John Anastasiadis

    April 25, 2012

    Hi Andrew,

    Thanks for commenting. I know there are no simple solutions or answers. However, the analogy to “eating the same food” and “wearing the same clothes” doesn’t hold water. Couldn’t you say the same about marriage? Also, it’s like telling Apple “hey, you’ve profitted from the iPhone enough…now it’s time to let Microsoft have your money”.

  5. John Anastasiadis

    April 25, 2012

    Think Wimbledon or The Masters Golf Tournament. These and other sporting events are held in the same locations ever year.

  6. Hey John, my point was that you aren’t looking at it from a realistic perspective. The city that hosts the Olympic Games does not make most of it’s money from ticket sales, but from broadcast fees. Especially fees from the U.S. networks. Do you really think that if it were held in the same place every year it would have the same appeal? It’s not just the sports aspect of the Olympics that draws interest, but also the locale. Without TV money, there are no Games. If Athens hosted every year, the networks wouldn’t see it as a unique event anymore. How many times will the public want to see the same opening and closing ceremonies? And going beyond the Games themselves to the logistics of it, Greece ran up a huge deficit last time it hosted the Games. What gives you reason to believe it would be any different next time? Also, Greece does not have a trademark on the Games. So they do not own them and therefore a perpetual hosting of the Games could not happen in any case. The problem with Greece is that the Greek government employs too many people, doesn’t do an efficient job collecting taxes, and allows people to retire at too early an age. For too long, the Government spent too much money it didn’t have and made too many promises it can’t keep.The Olympic Games might bring in hundreds of millions. But the Greek government is in debt hundreds of billions. As i said before, i appreciate your reason for suggesting it. But we need to be realistic. That proposal just won’t ever hapen. My worry is that unless some drastic and unfortunately painful measures are taken, the country is on the verge of insolvency and collapse. It pains me to say that, but unfortunately that is the case.

  7. John Anastasiadis

    April 25, 2012

    Thanks Andrew for your comments. It’s always good to get others perspective.

  8. Christina Karapalides

    April 26, 2012

    Nice article, John. I really enjoyed reading your perspective on what you think some good solutions would be to this problem. I like your idea regarding hosting the Olympic games in Greece every four years. It is the appropriate place to hold these games, considering it was the birthplace of the Olympics. And it makes perfect sense for other countries not to have to spend all this money for two weeks worth of games and not even make enough money back to cover all expenses. Having the Olympics in one country would be the ideal situation. However, you know no other country would go for that! Simply for their own selfish reasons. All the countries want to outdo each other every four years to see who can host the best games. There’s also a certain sense of pride that comes to each country when they are chosen to be the host. So, I think many of the other countries would be against Greece hosting it every four years. They may have the attitude of “Why should Greece be getting all the glory?” (even though they are the creators ;) ) Also, with all the chaos that is happening over there now, I don’t believe that many supporters and onlookers would be too keen on going over there. I know of some Greek people that don’t even want to go on vacation over there now to see their own families! Overall, again, great article. I agree with you on the Olympics aspect, however, too much wishing is involved :/

  9. Jerry Stragalinos

    August 29, 2012

    Hi John,
    I agree with your comments and ideas. All the Greek artifacts should be returned to Greece, especially the Elgin marbles which if I am not wrong are being kept in Britain. The English claimed that they can take care of the Greek artifacts better than the country of their origin. That is no longer the case, the new Acropolis museum is just out of this world. Makes a lot of other museums around the world look very ordinary. I hope Greece has initiated legal action about this issue and until it is settled the English should start paying Greece a fee or part of the profits for displaying our artifacts. The Olympic games, have become a Hollywood production, not what out ancestors intended. Greece also started the modern Olympics, if they are not to be held in Greece every four year then the host nation and every other nation that participates in that glorious event should pay Greece for using our intellectual property!!! Do I sound crazy? Does what I am suggesting make any sense? I would love any feedback. In this day and age try using someone else’s ideas or work, you end up with a huge law suit if not done thru the correct channels and avenues and if done correctly then you have to pay a huge fee. I have spent the biggest part of my life in English speaking countries and the last 2-3 years I have heard and read a lot of negative things about us Greeks, lazy, cheats, not hard working, love living the good life (who doesn’t) we want others to pay for our great life style, don’t pay our debts, Greeks love free rides…ha, maybe it is time for the rest of the world to pay up for what is rightfully ours and have been using free of charge for years……
    Kind regards.
    Jerry.

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