Almost four years since taking delivery of the Olympic Games flag, ATHENS 2004 is back in Sydney. The capital of New South Wales is the first city stopover on the genuinely international journey of the Torch Relay route organised by Greece.
As of Monday, and until 4 June, the day on which the Olympic Flame passes through Sydney, ATHENS 2004 has a 90 sq m pavilion at Darling Harbour, in the heart of the city, to showcase the 2004 Olympic Games and provide information for Australians and other visitors about the progress of preparations.
The Pavilion was officially opened on Monday as part of the inauguration of the Greek Festival in Sydney. Over 6,000 people visited the pavilion on the opening day (there are 35,000 visitors to the Greek Festival overall every year). Among the first visitors were the Leader of the Opposition in the New South Wales Parliament, John BROGDEN; the Australian Minister of Justice, John HATZISTERGOS, Greek by origin; the Greek Ambassador to Sydney, Ioannis RAPTAKIS; and the president of the Greek Orthodox Community in Sydney, George ANGELOPOULOS.
A number of briefings and cultural events have been organised in connection with the Festival.
The main exhibits at the Olympic Organising Committee's pavilion are the Torch for the 2004 Olympic Games, Torches from previous Olympic Games, and the costume of the High Priestess for the Lighting Ceremony. Also on display will be a huge map of the route of the International Olympic Torch Relay, a unique initiative by ATHENS 2004 in the history of the Olympic Games.
Video pictures and printed information material will also be available to visitors to the Pavilion. As was said earlier, Sydney is the first of the 33 cities to be visited by the Olympic Flame before returning to Greece.
The aim of this decision by the Organising Committee is to honour the previous city to have organised the Olympic Games, a city, moreover, which has thousands of Greek residents.