Τhe organizing committee of the London 2012 Olympic Games has announced its decision to not include the trireme “Olympias” spectacle in the opening ceremony on July 27.
The vessel, which is a replica of the ancient Greek warship that took part in the Battle of Salamis in 480 BC against the Persians, would sail down the river Thames with the help of 170 top rowers and carry the flame from Tower Bridge to the stadium in Stratford, East London. Afterwards, it would embark on a tour to the US organized by the Greek Defense Ministry, the Greek Navy and International Advantage Corporation.
According to the Financial Times, the head of ceremonies for London’s organizing committee (Locog), Martin Green, wrote in an explanatory email that the ancient Greek trireme would be a particularly popular spectacle that could lead to traffic and security problems, overcrowding and even to people jumping into the waters of Thames.
The organizing committee claimed it had never formally announced or confirmed the featuring of the trireme at the opening ceremony. However, International Advantage Corporation – the US exhibits and entertainment distributor that had undertaken the renovation work on the vessel – claimed it had already spent 150,000 Euros on the project and is considering taking legal action against the unexpected cancellation.
The cancellation came as a surprise to the Greek Navy and government. According to sources, the Greek Defense Minister is expected to file a formal complaint to the UK government, the chairman of Logoc and the Mayor of London.
The trireme would be the only official Greek contribution to the London Olympics besides the athletes, since the Greek crisis has left no room for further expenses or additional participations in other Games-related events.
The trireme, which had been presented at the Athens Olympics in 2004, was also to host a celebration event next month in Greece where British delegates would be invited, but the Greek Navy cancelled it.