The project “Olympico Vision” was launched less than a year ago with the intent to bring the Olympic Games back home to Greece — permanently.
On the eve of the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, as the world watches, one woman is turning her vision away from Japan and is focused on Greece. Last December, Theotoki Ntolaptsi has became the initiator of Olympico Vision, an online movement to make Greece the permanent home of the Olympic Games.
A dynamic group of women are behind the movement with Ntolapsi at the helm of the ambitious project.
On Wednesday, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced that the 2032 Olympic Games will be held in Brisbane, Australia. The Australian city was the favorite as offers from India, Indonesia, Qatar, Spain and Germany failed to pass the IOC Board of Directors’ approval.
Brisbane will have the next nine years to prepare the infrastructure needed for the pinnacle of all sporting events, with massive costs and across a variety of venues.
Olympico Vision Wants 2036 Olympic Games in Greece
Ntolapsi told Greek Reporter she would like to see the 2036 Games take place on Greek soil. She believes, as do many others, that this continual change of venue is a gigantic waste of both cash and manpower.
Her logic in the push for the return of the games to Greece cites the words of two historic Greek figures, the King of Greece in 1886 and Konstantinos Karamanlis.
In 1976 and 1980 Karamanlis corresponded with the president of the IOC and requested the permanent holding of the Olympic Games in Greece. Although his proposal was then dictated more by the need to protect the Olympic idea than guided by economic criteria, it was still ahead of its time.
After the end of the first modern Olympics in Athens in 1896, the Greek king viewed it as such a success that he asked the IOC to consider making Athens the permanent home of the Olympics. In a toast, King George I of Greece said he hoped “foreigners… will remember Athens as the peaceful meeting place of all nations, as the tranquil and permanent seat of the Olympic Games.”
Olympic Games Promote National Pride
Numerous countries’ attempts to become the next hosts for the Olympics with the hopes that they will promote their national pride and benefit financially by showing their hospitality. However, those benefits pale at the significant cost that is necessary to undertake such a grand event.
“We would not aim for something that is considered impossible. When Baron Pierre de Coubertin first proposed the idea of reviving the Olympic Games, although his proposal was met with ridicule and apathy, he was not discouraged.
“Stubbornly and persistently he managed to revive the first modern Olympic Games in Athens in 1896, after 1500 years. This was much more difficult, but it happened. Based on the reactions so far, I firmly believe that yes, the goal is achievable,” said Ntolaptsi.
“I believe that there are people who really love our country and are willing to fight for anything that will help it without political expediencies or personal ambitions, but guided by the love for the humanitarian ideals that the Olympics and — in the end — Greece stand for. As an authentic Macedonian, I quote Alexander the Great ‘there is nothing impossible for the one who will try!’” stated Ntolaptsi.
Global Supporters to Return Olympics to Greece
Ntolaptsi told Greek Reporter that Olympico Vision’s mission is to create a global stream of supporters, undertaking actions, programs and initiatives. With the aim targeted at credible bodies of international civil society, this will contribute to the promotion and implementation of the idea for Greece to serve as permanent venue host of the Olympic Games. But also that a different country or city serve as organizer for the competition held every four years.
According to Ntolaptsi, the permanent development of infrastructure in Greece with a rotation of organizing cities or nations will give an opportunity to economically disadvantaged countries to participate. “Over the centuries, African athletes who passed into the pantheon of Olympic history, in images now yellowed by time, inspire and nurture. We must not deprive these nations of the right to dream, the right to promote, their own cultural values and customs as a part of that Olympic ideal.”
According to the movement’s web site, the benefits for Greece being the host country are the following: Greece is the birthplace of the Olympic Games, and the country has the climate, geopolitical locations, safety and security with the necessary experience to organize large athletic events.
Renovating the already existing venues and facilities will give plenty of opportunities to Greek municipalities to develop and it restores and awakens global interest in ancient Greek culture, with the immediate effect of increasing interest and traffic archaeological sites throughout the country. It stimulates the values of the Olympic spirit by creating healthy standards for young people to look up to.
Ntolaptsi told Greek Reporter she is willing to do that, one person at a time.
When asked what individuals can do to support this movement, she said “Olympico Vision aims to create a global stream of supporters that will assist in the return of the Olympic Games to their home. Day by day new members, Greeks and foreigners are joining in this effort. People of spirit, of art, of culture seek the rebirth, a restart, for the Olympic idea, that can only be done by returning the games to the country of their birth.”
The Olympico Vision instructs like-minded individuals to become members of the non-profit organization to support the effort in spirit and financially but also through volunteerism.
According to Ntolaptsi everyone can participate, even in some small way. “A simple ‘like’ on our page or a comment is a great help to our vision. On our website there are guidelines for all the ways that one can become a supporter of the idea and assist in its realization.”
She added, “I am also willing to be wherever I need to be, to transmit this vision of ours. The more our supporters grow, the stronger our voice becomes. Our aim is to voice substantiated arguments to make Greece the permanent venue for the facilities of the Olympic Games.”
Olympico Vision Actions Multifaceted
Ntolaptsi said the actions of Olympico Vison are multifaceted, running parallel in many directions. She is in touch with and appealing to Greek communities across the globe, intellectual Philhellenes, American senators who at the moment support Olympico in many ways as well as to prosperous Gulf countries.
Although Ntolaptsi acknowledges the power of the IOC, she is not focused on them yet. She said she believes it would be premature to approach them now. “The IOC will accept our vision when the time is right. When the support centers we build daily acquire dimension and weight so as to bring convergence on the consensus.”
Ntolaptsi told Greek Reporter “I completely agree with Paul Glastris. I am convinced that Olympico Vision must have a relationship with the government of Mitsotakis, but also with any Greek government, since locating the games permanently in Greece is not simply a conjunctural component of our economy, but a national achievement with permanent economic and geopolitical dimensions.”
In recent weeks, Paul Glastris of the Washington Monthly told Greek Reporter “If Greek elected officials and party leaders don’t want to fight for bringing the Olympic Games back to Greece permanently, it’s never going to happen. So probably the most effective thing Greeks in Greece and abroad can do, is to let these political leaders know that this is a priority to them.”
Ntolaptsi dabbled in politics for a brief period, following encouragement from her husband, as a candidate for Potami and then for New Democracy. Her career in the field of health created the “Invitation to Prevention,” a free service offering medical advice and examinations to more than 5,000 citizens, that could not afford health care.
She told Greek Reporter “I am a child of the countryside, raised in a rural family with all that entails, and at my most sensitive age, I was forced to immigrate to Germany with my family for livelihood. So there, I realized how much I missed my home, and my love for Greece grew incredibly.”
And if Olympico Vision does not succeed in bringing the games back to Greece? Alternatively, Ntolaptsi said that a potential plan B would be that cities or countries could serve as the venue for two decades at a time. “Greece could be the venue for twenty years. Another country or city could serve as the venue location for the following twenty.” A plan like this would encompass five sets of games, spanning the traditional four year gap.
Ntolaptsi and her board of directors at Olympico Vision continue to reach out, to open doors for the movement. Ntolaptsi presides over a dynamic group of women and volunteers. Lambrini Polygeni serves as vice-president and Efrosini Kitzoflou serves as secretary out of their central Athens office.
Olympic Games and Olympico Vision Came Unexpectedly
She said, “The Olympics came into my life completely unexpectedly, I was informed, I read, I learned and I believed that it is an ideal time to claim and manage to bring the Olympics back to their home.”
The mother of three noted “I have a beautiful family and a wonderful husband, who does not just support me, but supports my expectations. This may be my greatest achievement, my children, but I do not think that motherhood stops a woman’s dreams. You know I think to be a good mother you have to be good with yourself too.”
Ntolaptsi said “I am from Drama. And Drama smells of burned wood, it smells of vines, it smells of Eastern Greece. But it smells more of passion. So be sure that my colleagues and I will go forward with passion.”