Tradition Takes Back Seat

Hartford Courant , CT
Aug 19 2004

Tradition Takes Back Seat
August 19, 2004
Combined Wire Services

For all the talk of reaching back to the ancient roots of the games,
some Olympic venues have all the reverence of a real-life beer

Tanned, toned dancers in orange bikinis gyrate at beach volleyball.
Laker Girl wannabes in flashy dresses shimmy at men’s basketball.
Guns N’ Roses’ “Welcome to the Jungle” blares from the speakers at

These may be your great-great-grandfather’s games in terms of
location, but some venues at the Athens games offer all the subtlety
of Wrestlemania – or the NBA, which helped coordinate entertainment
during basketball games.

“From the first to the last detail, they are responsible for that,”
basketball venue manager Dimitris Karydas said Wednesday. “It looks
to you the same because it is the same.”

Tuesday night’s sold-out game between the United States and Greece,
which didn’t need extra hype, was sexed up even more with a
nine-member dance group from Russia and Ukraine called the Red Foxes,
who shook their shoulders and fan-kicked their way through Jennifer
Lopez’s “Let’s Get Loud.” Wearing silky-red, low-cut halter dresses
and black high heels, the dancers smiled and tossed their hair (in
varying shades of blond) with unwavering enthusiasm.

For Dad and country: Norik Martirosyan lost a hand in a grenade
explosion, so he uses his other one when he’s chain-smoking
cigarettes – an old, unhealthy habit that Martirosyan’s son, Vanes,
has begged his father to stop.

When Vanes won the Olympic trials after the two favorites in his
weight class were disqualified, Norik said, “Vanes, if you win a gold
medal, I’ll quit smoking.” So Vanes Martirosyan, of Glendale, Calif.,
an 18-year-old underdog, son of an Armenian immigrant, is determined
to win Olympic gold in the 152-pound class so his father will quit
smoking. And for one other reason.

“For all the time I have been boxing,” Vanes said, “my father has
told me what a lucky boy I am to be growing up in the United States.
… He has told me, since I can remember, that there would be no
greater honor for a sportsman such as me to win a gold medal to honor
our country.”

Martirosyan will fight 2003 Pan American Games gold medalist Lorenzo
Aragon of Cuba in the second round today. Martirosyan outpointed
Benamar Meskine of Algeria in the first round.

Busy in Beijing: The Beijing Olympics are four years away, but
construction of the venues is so far ahead of schedule the
International Olympic Committee has asked Chinese organizers to slow
down to better manage their cash flow.

The Chinese have been equally zealous about preparing their athletes
for the 2008 Games. And China has gotten off to a dazzling start in
Athens, ranking second to the U.S. in the medal count with 22

Ratings report: NBC’s television ratings for the first five days of
the Summer Olympics in Athens are 5 percent higher than the same span
of the 2000 Summer Games in Sydney.

The network telecasts for last Friday through Tuesday were watched by
an average 15.4 percent of the 108.4 million U.S. households with
televisions, compared with 14.6 percent for the first five days of
the Sydney games, NBC said, citing Nielsen Media Research Inc.

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress